Postal Service to Resume in Canada as Back-to-Work Law Passes
By Kenneth Corbin
Online sellers who were facing a disruption in delivery service in Canada due to a labor dispute can breathe a sigh of relief.
A bill passed on Sunday by the Canadian Senate ordered an end to the general work stoppage that had taken most of Canada's postal employees off the job following a stalemate in labor negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
After securing Royal Assent, the formal affirmation of a new law in Canada, the back-to-work bill takes effect at 8:30 p.m. ET. As a result, the union has directed members who would normally be at work at that time to report for their shifts, and similarly informed members who would ordinarily work on Tuesday to return to duty.
That means that consumers and businesses affected by the strikes and lockout will begin receiving mail again on Tuesday, and facilities that were closed during the work stoppage will reopen.
Canada Post, which had locked out union workers following a series of partial, localized strikes, said it would work rapidly to restore its normal rate of service, but that it is still working through a substantial backlog.
"We regret the impact of the work disruption on our customers. We will move as quickly as possible to process and deliver the mail," Canada Post said in a statement on its website.
"With unprocessed mail in the system and accumulated mail received from other countries that has not yet entered our system, it will take some time to stabilize our operations and to return to our normal delivery standards. Any mail in the system at the time of the work disruption has been secured for processing and delivery." Canada Post said that it would work directly with large mailers "to support an orderly and effective induction process."
The U.S. Postal Service similarly said that it would again begin accepting mail bound for Canada on Tuesday, and that all mail held during the work stoppage would be delivered to Canada in phases. "Customers will experience some delays in service due to the large volume of mail that was being held," USPS said.
The postal service and the union had been at odds on a number of issues concerning pay, benefits and working conditions.
The union blasted the new bill, which it condemned as an unwarranted government intrusion into a labor dispute, claiming that with the bill's passage, "the (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper government has declared war on postal workers and all working people."
The union claimed that Canada Post dug in its heels and adopted a position of intransigence once the back-to-work legislation was introduced.
"The government is clearly willing to side with employers to grind down wages and working conditions," CUPW National President Denis Lemelin said in a statement.
"The union's struggle for safe work, decent jobs and pensions will continue in spite of this unjust and punitive bill. Fortunately, the government can't legislate away our determination to fight for our rights," Lemelin added.
"I could see this getting more confrontational going forward," British Columbia Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair told CBC news. "Workers didn't join unions to go backwards."
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About the author:
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.
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