The end of the mail lockout

2011-06-27

in Canada, Economics, Law, Politics

In the case of Canada Post, the use of back-to-work legislation to end the labour dispute seems inappropriate. Quite likely, it is a violation of the right to collective bargaining that the members of the union possess.

Losing postal service has not been a catastrophe. It definitely wasn’t too problematic before the management-initiated lockout. As such, the only serious disruption to service that has taken place has been the result of a management decision. Canada Post’s workers don’t deserve to be forced back to work through legislation because of that.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. June 30, 2011 at 11:11 am
mek June 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

The truly damning thing about the legislation is that it forced the union to accept a four-year contract which pays less in wages than even what management had previously offered. Whatever happened to arbitration?

. July 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Canada’s unions
Mail aggression
A strike gives both the government and opposition a chance to play politics

FEW people under 30 make much use of “snail mail” anymore. But Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, is 52, and judged that a labour dispute which had interrupted postal service for three weeks was causing enough damage that the government should pass a law on June 26th to order employees back to work. Although Canada faces far greater economic threats than a work stoppage in a shrinking industry, the postal strike offered Mr Harper an irresistible opportunity to pick a favourable political fight.

If sending a letter seems quaint today, the notion of a postal service profitable enough that its workers would risk a strike seems quainter still. But even though Canadians post fewer letters than they once did, state-owned Canada Post has deftly avoided obsolescence. The company has encouraged the growth of “direct” (junk) mail, which now accounts for almost a quarter of its revenues, and launched its own online bill-payment service. It was profitable for 15 straight years up to 2009, the latest year annual figures are available.

In February Canada Post announced it needed to offer lower pensions and wages to new hires, citing falling mail volumes and revenues. Complaining that the company remained in the black, its workers’ union launched a series of rolling strikes on June 3rd to protest the cuts. The management was unfazed. On June 14th it responded by locking out 48,000 employees and cutting off postal services entirely.

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