Canada Post ended its 12-day lockout this weekend, sending thousands of Canadian postal service mail sorters back to work Monday to prepare for mail delivery Tuesday.
The Senate of Canada, in a rare Sunday sitting, passed a government bill requiring postal employees to return to work. The House of Commons, after a 58-hour filibuster, passed the bill Saturday night.
The legislation ends the lockout, imposed by Canada Post on its 48,000 employees, after 12 days of rotating one-day strikes, which began June 14. Employees sought a new contract after eight months of failed contract negotiations.
Both management and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers stated that work is to resume fully, or the agency faces steep financial penalties. An arbitrator to be appointed by federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has 90 days to work with Canada Post and CUPW and, finally, to exercise “final offer selection” -- meaning he or she will simply pick the final offer of one side or the other, without change or further compromise.
The final offer will not include wages as the government bill, now law, sets 1.75 percent wage increases for the first two years of a four-year contract, below the 1.9 percent that had been offered by government-owned Canada Post. Parliament strongly disputed the Conservative government’s move of setting wage terms by law, which had never been done before, calling it a precedent for destroying collective bargaining.
More than wages, the union had mostly opposed Canada Post’s intention of establishing two tiers of employees among the existing 48,000 workers and new hires. The arbitrator will have to decide whether new employees should receive lower wages, a much weaker pension plan, and fewer down-time benefits, in the Canada Post plan. Canada Post said it had to save money because its pension plan is in deep debt and its letter services is declining, although overall it still is turning a profit.
The U.S. had stopped delivering mail to Canada during the first week of the lockout http://www.joc.com/postal-services/us-suspends-canada-mail-delivery. Delivery is expected to resume once Canada Post’ system in back in place.