Ottawa to order end to postal dispute
The back-to-work legislation for Air Canada likely will also be introduced today
The federal government moved Wednesday to end a second major work stoppage in as many days, prompting accusations from opposition parties and one labour expert that the new majority government is setting an alarming precedent for labour relations in the country.
Less than 24 hours after roughly 50,000 Canada Post workers were locked out following nearly two weeks of rotating strikes, the Harper government was preparing to table legislation to end the labour dispute, arguing that the action is needed to protect Canadians and the economy.
The move by the government comes a day after it took the same action to force 3,800 striking Air Canada service staff back to work.
The government has to give Parliament 48 hours notice before such legislation can be updated, meaning the postal lockout is likely to continue through this week.
The announcement on the Canada Post situation was made in the House of Commons Wednesday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.
NDP leader Jack Layton accused the Conservative government of failing to allow the two high-profile labour disputes to unfold fairly. Layton noted the government had threatened back-to-work legislation just hours after Air Canada workers began their strike Tuesday, and then allowed Canada Post to lock out its workers later that night.
But Harper insisted the government needs to move quickly to forestall broader damage to the economy. “The two parties in both the Air Canada dispute and the Canada Post dispute have thus far been unable to reach a settlement,” Harper told the Commons. “Due to their inability to reach a settlement they are threatening greater and greater damage on other parties in the Canadian economy. That is not acceptable to the government. This government will act to ensure that the Canadian economy and the wider interests of the Canadian public are protected.”
Moments later, Raitt followed up with more detail, stressing that the two parties in the Canada Post dispute have been trying unsuccessfully to reach a collective agreement for “a very long period of time.”
Air Canada workers walked off the job on Tuesday. That evening, Raitt announced the government intended to table legislation to bring them back to work.
The back-to-work legislation for Air Canada likely will be introduced today. The expectation is that it would be passed by Parliament sometime next week and, once passed, would take effect immediately.
The Canada Post legislation, which was scheduled for notice Wednesday night, would be introduced in the House of Commons on Monday at the earliest point following a 48-hour wait period.
The Iqaluit post office, whose workers do not belong to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and are not affected by the lockout, remained open June 15.
But Iqaluit post office staff were not receiving any outgoing or incoming mail.