Economic effects of 2011 postal disruption exaggerated: Union

Union reiterates government intervention was politically motivated
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 06/27/2012

The union representing Canadian postal workers is accusing Canada Post of exaggerating the economic impacts of last year’s rotating postal strikes and subsequent lockout.

The job action in June 2011 did not have a negative impact on the economy, contrary to what the federal government and others claimed at the time, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) claims in a research paper released on June 26.

"The Harper government argued it had to legislate CUPW members back to work to protect the economy," said CUPW national president Denis Lemelin. "But our paper reveals that the impact of the postal disruption on the economy was negligible, as measured by bankruptcy and employment data."

The research disputes Canada Post president Deepak Chopra’s claim that the company lost “hundreds of millions” of dollars, saying the labour disruption put the postal company back only $58 million.

The most prominent outcome from the job disruption was a decline in labour relations, the union said.

"The paper demonstrates that postal back-to-work legislation (…) was not enacted for economic reasons," said Lemelin. "It was enacted because our government has it out for workers."

The paper also shows some businesses were negatively affected, but there is no evidence rotating strikes threatened their viability, the union said. The paper claims charities, non-profit organizations, seniors groups, and rural and remote organizations were the only ones who experienced temporary negative impacts.

In May, Canada Post reported an annual loss of $327 million — its first loss in 17 years. This was mostly caused by a $150 million damage payment ordered by the Supreme Court of Canada and one-off payments required to pay down some of its pension deficit, CUPW suggests in the paper.

The labour dispute between Canada Post and its 48,000 urban workers is ongoing as arbitration between the parties has yet to be completed. On May 15, arbitration hearings were put on hold after the union won a stay of proceedings from the Federal Court.

The union is challenging the appointment of arbitrator Guy Dufort in its dispute with Canada Post because of his previous work for Canada Post and history as a Conservative party candidate in Quebec.

CUPW asked Dufort to step down in March, but he declined saying the union’s concerns about any possible conflict of interest weren’t justified.

The Federal Court will now hold a hearing on July 25 in Montreal to review Dufort's appointment.

Canada Post hasn’t commented on the paper.

Read CUPW's research paper: The economic impact of the Canadian postal strike and lockout: Permanent economic damage or temporary inconvenience? 

The findings were presented earlier this month at the Rutgers University Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics in Brighton, United Kingdom.

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