Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers could be kicked out of the union if they go against CUPW’s pressure tactic of refusing overtime during the rotating strikes.
An internal union memo to members obtained by Global News clearly spells it out:
“Working on your rotation day (RDO) is a violation of the National Overtime Ban. This is a legal strike action. All CUPW members must follow this direction. You will be subjected to Articles 8 charges under the National Constitution.”
A rotation day is considered a scheduled day off.
Article 8 of the CUPW National Constitution refers to discipline that could be imposed on members who violate national orders such as a national strike, as laid out in section 8.02(e), “if he/she impeded or acted in opposition to a strike or any other collective action of the Union”.
CUPW spokesperson Emilie Tobin wouldn’t comment on the memo, but did say those penalties apply to every member even in times where there is not a labour disruption.
WATCH: Senators question constitutionality of Liberals’ Canada Post back-to-work legislation
According to CUPW’s constitution, one of the possible penalties includes expulsion from the union.
A spokesperson for Canada Post told Global News that the corporation often asks workers to come in at this time of the year on rotation days, in order to clear the backlog of holiday parcels.
“On weekends during the holidays last year we delivered 3.6 million parcels,” said Jon Hamilton, Canada Post spokesperson.
Hamilton notes that Canada Post had planned to deliver 500,000 parcels across the country this weekend to keep pace. With the labour disruption, however, their projections have them delivering around 30,000 parcels this weekend.
Saturday, in a rare weekend sitting, the Senate was told there are are 1,000,000 pieces of mail waiting to be delivered.
Canada Post’s interim president and CEO Jessica McDonald told senators that the backlog could take weeks to clear, pushing them well past January. However, CUPW National President Mike Palecek told the upper chamber it would only take his members one day to get back on track.
WATCH: Canada Post back-to-work legislation advances in Senate setting stage for possible end to rotating strikes
Senators spent much of the day grilling witnesses about the rotating strikes and the apparent urgency to pass back-to-work legislation. Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu and Public Works and Government Services minister Carla Qualtrough were questioned for more than 90 minutes, while McDonald and the CUPW’s national president were both grilled for more than an hour.
Bill C-89, the Canada Post back-to-work legislation, could have gone to a vote on Saturday, but several members of the Independent Senators Group (ISG) worry it might be unconstitutional because it violates the workers rights to free bargaining.
“If senators are being asked to pass legislation that breaches the Charter, we should know that there’s a breach of the Charter and now we’re left to contend with that issue on our own, and it’s unfair,” said ISG member and senator Murray Sinclair.
In 2011, the Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper passed back-to-work legislation to end the last Canada Post strike, but it was later struck down in the Supreme Court of Canada after being deemed unconstitutional.
The final vote on C-89 could come Monday afternoon, meaning Canada Post workers could be forced back on the job as early as Tuesday at noon.