The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is warning officials to expect “non-violent civil disobedience” in response to the federal government passing legislation ordering Canada Post employees back to work.
“After 37 days of rotating strikes, unconstitutional legislation has removed the right to strike for postal workers. Legal strike action ends at noon today, but the struggle is not over. You cannot legislate labour peace. We are now moving to a different phase of the struggle. We are asking members to return to their regularly scheduled shifts as of 12 p.m. ET and await further instructions,” CUPW president Mike Palecek said in a statement.
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Canada Post workers went on strike just over a month ago, with rotating strike actions taking place across the country until this week. The union claims it is fighting for “health and safety, equitable treatment, fair wages and working conditions and the democratic right to free collective bargaining.”
Employment Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement last week that should Canada Post and the union fail to reach an agreement within a few days, the government would issue back-to-work legislation. Since then, the union has not been able to come to an agreement.
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“For nearly a year, we have been supporting and encouraging both sides to reach a negotiated agreement. We provided conciliation officers, appointed mediators and offered voluntary arbitration. Despite all of this, limited progress was made, and we have exhausted our options,” Hajdu said at the time.
Back-to-work legislation was officially passed on Monday and came into effect Tuesday.
Canada Post responded to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon, stating that Canadians can continue to expect delivery delays for the next several weeks as the postal service faced “unprecedented backlogs.”
In an earlier statement responding to the legislation, Palecek said: “Postal workers are rightly dismayed and outraged.”
Despite backlash from CUPW, businesses have praised the move by the Liberals, saying ordering postal workers back to work will “help salvage the holiday season” for small businesses and consumers.
“We’re relieved to see Canada Post back to work and hope the corporation and the union can reach a long-lasting agreement to ensure Canada Post can become a low-cost and reliable option for small business,” said Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
According to Canada Post, parcels will continue to be delayed through the holiday season and into 2019. The backlog of letter mail delivery should be cleared before Dec. 25, however international parcels will likely see delays into March 2019.
—With files from the Canadian Press