Postal union shuts down mail in Ottawa as Commons mulls back-to-work measures

Click to play video: 'Union alleges Canada Post is waiting for ‘bail out’ from government'
Union alleges Canada Post is waiting for ‘bail out’ from government
WATCH: Union alleges Canada Post is waiting for 'bail out' from government – Nov 23, 2018

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.

READ MORE: Canada Post workers occupy offices of Morneau, other MPs to protest back-to-work legislation

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.

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“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.”

READ MORE: Senate preparing for rare weekend sitting to pass Canada Post back-to-work bill

Canada Post seems to have convinced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Christmas wouldn’t come without a back-to-work bill, added CUPW president Mike Palecek.

“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?

Click to play video: 'Is the government right to force Canada Post employees back to work?'
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.

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READ MORE: Union claims Canada Post exaggerated backlog to force federal intervention

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.

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