Last month, after 37 days of rotating strikes, the federal government passed legislation to force postal workers back to work. By denying our constitutionally protected rights to free collective bargaining and the right to strike, the Trudeau government is acting more and more like the previous Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
As a labour leader on P.E.I., I was surprised and disappointed by this legislation. It means Ottawa has again sided with corporate management instead of ordinary people. Favours and bail-outs to large corporations are happening left and right, but workers, on the other hand, have yet to enjoy any kind of “bail-out”. To this day, their only line of defence remains their collective strength.
Denying basic constitutional rights to our postal workers sets a dangerous precedent for all levels of governments and sends a clear message to employers: don’t bother bargaining, legislators can bail you out if negotiations are not going your way.
Our postal workers are women and men who get up early in the morning, rain or shine, to serve their communities. Like most of us, they are facing workload and overtime increase issues, health and safety dangers, and stagnating purchasing power. They deserve respect and fairness from their employer. In that sense, their fight is also our fight.
I hope postal workers don’t just go back to work quietly with their heads down. This is not going to make the ongoing issues disappear. Negotiations are not over. Whatever course of action they choose, P.E.I. postal workers can count on the full support of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and its 3,500 members provincewide.
Acting President, Canadian Union of Public Employees – PEI