Mail service came to a halt in Ottawa on Friday as the House of Commons took up back-to-work legislation tabled by the Liberal government.
The capital, as well as smaller towns in Ontario and British Columbia, and Sherbrooke, Que., are the latest targets of rotating strikes by Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
On Thursday, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu tabled a bill to end mail disruptions across the country and argued the government had a responsibility protect all Canadians and businesses that drive the economy.
The move has been condemned by CUPW and the Canadian Labour Congress, who say the legislation puts the Liberal government at odds with the labour movement as a whole.
“The right to strike is an integral part of the collective bargaining process,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff. “Without it, an employer has no incentive to bargain in good faith, and workers have no recourse to demand a fair process.”
“The mail was moving, and people know it,” he said. “People have been getting their mail and online orders delivered. That was the point of our rotating strike tactics, not to pick a fight with the public.”
WATCH: Is the government right to force Canada Post employees back to work?
Members of Palecek’s union have held rotating walkouts for a month, causing massive backlogs of unsorted mail and packages at postal depots, though Canada Post and the union dispute how big the pileup is.
Canada Post says it could take weeks – even stretching into 2019 – to clear the backlog that has built up, especially at major sorting centres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
CUPW’s 50,000 members, in two groups, are demanding better pay for rural and suburban carriers, more job security and minimum guaranteed hours.