Canada Post union plans to challenge back-to-work law

Union says federal legislation unlawfully removes the right to strike
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/14/2011

The union representing Canada’s postal workers is planning on challenging the validity of the back-to-work legislation that removed them from picket lines in June 2011.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) issued a notice on Sept. 9, 2011 indicating they believe they “have a reasonable basis to challenge Bill C-6 as a violation of the right to freedom of association protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The statement says the union is working with “the labour movement” to regain the right to strike after it was lost when the federal government enacted Bill C-6, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services. CUPW also plans on approaching the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to explain that Bill C-6 violates the right to freedom of association outlined in the ILO’s Convention 87.

About 48,000 Postal workers started rotating strikes to back contract demands in early June 2011. This led to a lockout by Canada Post later that month, shutting the mail service down. The government said the lockout needed to end because of the threat to the national economy.

The back-to-work legislation provides for an arbitrator to pick between the offers made by the union and Canada Post, but it includes a controversial measure that sets the pay increase at less than the company had already offered the union.

Last month, CUPW indicated that they would also be challenging the federal government’s choice of the arbitrator selected to settle the labour dispute. The union said that Justice Coulter Osborne has inadequate labour relations experience to complete the arbitration process and the fact that he is not bilingual is troublesome. The federal government has defended the choice.

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