Canada’s national postal service is shut down today because of a company lockout, as Canada Post abruptly sent home its 50,000 workers in what appears to be an attempt to force back-to-work legislation by Parliament.
Canada Post, without warning the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, suspended operations across Canada with a lockout Tuesday, saying 12 days of rotating one-day strikes in urban centers had cost it some US$103 million in losses.
Canadian News from JOC: Air Canada Employees Strike.
Workers who turned up for late shifts after a day’s strike in the big cities of Toronto and Montreal were surprised to be turned away. Union officer Gerry Deveau told the Canadian Press news agency that the lockout was “a maneuver … to try and get the government to legislate us back to work and legislate some type of unfavorable collective agreement onto us.”
“There will be nothing moving through this country,” Deveau said. “If the government doesn’t intervene, then I do see this potentially as being a very long lockout.”
Canada Post remains “far apart on fundamental issues” from the CUPW, “and there has been no progress made at the negotiating table for weeks,” the government corporation said in a statement announcing the lockout.
“The lockout is the best way to bring a timely resolution to this impasse and force the union to seriously consider proposals that address the declining mail volumes and the $3.2 billion (US$3.3 billion) pension deficit,” Canada Post said. The pension deficit during the last 12 days of rotating strikes is reported to be $2.1 billion.
The fundamental sticking point for workers has been pension reform, wages and working conditions for new employees. Canada Post proposes to give new hires a lesser pension plan, lower wages and shorter holidays than existing employees, and the CUPW is resisting two-tier treatment.