November 24, 2018 9:43 am
Updated: November 24, 2018 6:46 pm

Senate debates Canada Post back-to-work legislation

WATCH: Canada Post back-to-work legislation advances in Senate setting stage for possible end to rotating strikes

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Senators spent hours on Saturday studying legislation that would order an end to postal workers’ rotating strikes, as the bill quickly passed the first two readings in the upper house.

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The bill was sent to the Senate early Saturday, just hours after the Liberal government pushed it through the House of Commons in a special sitting that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

“It’s a position I didn’t want to be in, but our government has come to the point of last resort,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu told the Senate as she urged senators to give Bill C-89 their collective nod of approval.

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

If the upper chamber approves the bill, it will go into effect at noon eastern time the day after receiving royal assent.

If passed, the bill would appoint a mediator-arbitrator to help Canada Post and the union representing its workers come to an agreement. If mediation fails, the two sides would enter binding arbitration.

WATCH: Senate debates Canada Post back-to-work legislation

Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have held rotating walkouts for a month, causing massive backlogs of unsorted mail and packages at postal depots.

WATCH: Canada Post’s CEO reacts to back-to-work legislation, speaks about negotiations

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, as well as greater job security and minimum guaranteed hours.

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

Those in favour of the back-to-work legislation say it would help small businesses that rely on parcel delivery around the holidays.

Critics – including New Democrat MPs, some of whom walked out of the Commons in protest on Friday evening – say it infringes on postal workers’ right to strike.

WATCH: Goal is to enabling Canada Post workers to get back to work and leave both sides satisfied: Morneau

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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