OTTAWA – The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has scored a significant victory in its fight against the Harper government’s treatment of postal workers.
In a decision handed down October 20th in the Federal Court, Judge Luc Martineau ordered a stay of proceedings relating to the Harper government’s back-to-work legislation (Bill C-6) against thousands of locked-out postal workers in June. The arbitration will now stop until the union’s challenge of the government’s hand-picked arbitrator can be heard in January 2012.
“This decision shows that the union is on the right track. We are questioning the process by which this government has forced its will on postal workers,” said Denis Lemelin, CUPW National President and chief negotiator.
Members of CUPW’s urban unit went on rotating strike in June and were subsequently locked out by Canada Post, then legislated back to work. The union has also launched a separate constitutional challenge against the back-to-work legislation itself, which directs the arbitrator to pick one side only without any possibility of compromise.
The Martineau decision bolsters the union’s objection to Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt’s appointment of Anthony Arthur Coulter Osborne – a unilingual judge without any previous experience in labour relations – to preside over the arbitration. The merits of the union’s case will be argued in January.
Normally, arbitrators are agreed upon by the parties, rather than being imposed by the government. Observers have noted the importance of CUPW’s challenges for the future of labour relations in Canada.