CUPW posted this response to the back-to-work legislation passed by the House Conservatives yesterday and expected to pass the Senate today:
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) says the Harper government has sent a message to all workers with its unjust and punitive bill legislating postal workers back to work.
“The government is clearly willing to side with employers to grind down wages and working conditions,” said CUPW National President Denis Lemelin. “Its decision to use back-to-work legislation in the Canada Post and Air Canada disputes was not neutral. The Conservatives have shown themselves to be very anti-worker after only two months of majority government.”
Lemelin said the government’s assertion that its legislation was necessary to protect the economy is illogical. He said postal workers had offered to return to work. “The government has attacked our right to freely negotiate the conditions we work under,” said Lemelin. “It appears that only markets and employers will have freedoms in this country.”
“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,” said Lemelin.
Lemelin added that postal workers are very grateful for the support they received from people all across the country and opposition Members of Parliament, especially members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) who eloquently defended free collective bargaining for 58 hours straight. He said the NDP’s filibuster was successful in provoking a resumption of negotiations between CUPW and Canada Post over the last few days, but that the negotiations had ultimately failed.
“Canada Post was uncompromising from the moment Harper’s government introduced back-to-work legislation,” said Lemelin.
They also posted this today:
With the passage of Bill C-6, the Harper government has declared war on postal workers and all working people. The anti-worker bias of this government was demonstrated clearly yesterday when the Conservative government of Stephen Harper vetoed every attempt by the opposition parties to amend the legislation. The government even said no to proposals that would give the arbitrator the ability to mediate between the parties. As expected, the government imposed a wage increase that is less than the last offer presented by Canada Post management.
NEB Unanimously Decides To Return To Work
The National Executive Board has unanimously decided that CUPW will return to work in accordance with the terms of the legislation. The legislation provides for enormous financial penalties for individuals and union representatives in the case of defiance. We believe that this government would use any excuse to destroy the union should we defy the legislation, and we will not give them any opportunity to do so. CUPW will be contacting Canada Post to discuss a return-to-work procedure, and we will notify you concerning the procedure for returning to work.
Postal Workers Can Be Very Proud
All CUPW members can go back to work with our heads held high. Throughout this struggle, we showed unprecedented strength, solidarity, determination and courage.
Just as we were united on the picket lines, we need to be united and strong when we are back in the workplace. We need to send a strong message to Canada Post that the lockout was wrong, and that their reliance on legislation is shameful. We need to support our shop stewards and local union representatives who will be on the front line in our struggles with management.
Our Struggle Continues
We are returning to work, but we are not defeated. CUPW has been legislated back to work in the past and that has not stopped us from continuing our struggle for justice and dignity. The government cannot legislate away our solidarity and determination. We will continue to work with all of the groups and organizations that have supported us, including labour unions, women’s groups, students, pensioners and our community and political allies to fight for decent jobs and pensions for all working people.