Liberals move to end Canada Post strike, table back-to-work bill
The government is laying the groundwork for a rapid end to the rotating Canada Post strikes.
Employment Minister Patty Hajdu has also just tabled back-to-work legislation that could force an end to the strike amid debate set to begin on a motion proposing to let debate and a vote on it unfold much more quickly than would normally be the case.
At the same time, officials say the bill could still be yanked back if the union representing postal workers and Canada Post come to a deal on their own.
“We wouldn’t come down this road,” said Hajdu in the House of Commons on Thursday morning as debate started on the motion to expedite the passage of the back-to-work legislation.
“However, we have exhausted every option.”
WATCH BELOW: Government House Leader Bardish Chagger says Canada Post back-to-work bill won’t be debated Thursday
The tabling of back-to-work legislation comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that “all options” were on the table to end the strike as he urged management and the union representing workers last week to come to an agreement ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.
Debate over the accompanying motion to expedite the bill is set to take up a significant chunk of debate on Thursday.
WATCH BELOW: Shipping companies benefit from Canada Post workers strike
Normally, the legislative process takes weeks if not months.
It is not yet clear how quickly the Liberals may move to pass the back-to-work bill if the speedier time frame proposed in the accompanying motion is passed.
Government House Leader Bardish Chagger told reporters on Thursday after the tabling of the bill that it would not be debated on Thursday and that the focus for the day would remain on the motion to allow for speedy passage of the bill.
But with Black Friday looming, it remains uncertain whether the Liberals will us the expedited time frame in the motion to potentially pass back-to-work legislation as soon as Friday morning, when the House of Commons sits for a half-day.
WATCH BELOW: Shipment delays expected ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday as rotating strikes continue at Canada Post
CUPW, the union representing postal workers, threatened to fight any back-to-work legislation in a statement to its members on Wednesday,
“No matter what, you have to be prepared to fight for your constitutional right for free collective bargaining,” the union said.
“We went to court and won this fight after the 2011 legislation. We will fight once again, should that right be taken away.”
Mike Palecek, president of CUPW, also said on Thursday in response to the legislation he is “outraged.”
“I think right now they’re standing against the workers,” he said.
“We won’t be able to address our core issues.”
Since Oct. 22, postal workers across Canada have rotated strikes, leading to significant backlogs in parcel and mail deliveries.
Postal workers have been without a contract for a year and while the federal government has repeatedly extended the appointment of a mediator assigned to work with both sides on the matter, the union refused to let its members vote on a time-sensitive offer put forward by Canada Post last week. It also rejected a request by Canada Post to pause the strikes over the holidays while returning to work with a mediator.
The Retail Council of Canada and retail giant eBay have both pleaded with the federal government to end the strike.
This weekend is Black Friday and Cyber Monday, major online shopping events.
They are also the busiest shopping days of the year and without a reliable shipping option, the fear raised by retailers like eBay last week is that Canadians may turn away from small and medium businesses unable to offer courier delivery options or reduce their online shopping.
The looming holiday shopping season has also been a heavy weight over the strike, with Trudeau hinting last month he would not allow the strike to impact Canadians’ holidays and that both sides are aware of the coming season.
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