The record-setting debate over the Conservative government’s back-to-work bill showed little sign of letting up, with Members of Parliament well into their third day of uninterrupted debate over legislation designed to get Canada’s mail moving again.
There was some talk Saturday afternoon about ending the impasse that has kept MPs in the House talking nonstop for more than 40 hours, but the Conservative government and Opposition NDP had not agreed on anything definitive.
Members of Parliament remain locked in debate early Friday over legislation that would send Canada Post employees back to work and end a lockout.
At daybreak in Ottawa, opposition MPs continued to make lengthy speeches designed to delay passage of the government’s bill.
The NDP began speaking in an attempt to stall the bill, with NDP Leader Jack Layton starting around 9 p.m. Thursday.
His speech, in its opening minutes, touched on the commitment of postal workers, the repetitive stress injuries some of them suffer, the Charter of Rights and wind turbines. NDP and Liberal members were still talking at 6 a.m. ET Friday, with no sign of stopping.
The debate can run until all 103 NDP MPs have spoken, at which point they will vote on the bill’s second reading and move to committee of the whole, where MPs have even more time-delaying tactics at their disposal.
Legislating postal workers back to work is not ideal but is necessary to protect Canada’s economic recovery, the government argued Tuesday as debate on its controversial bill got underway.
Parliament began dealing with the bill to put locked-out Canada Post employees back to work by debating a motion to speed up its passage and the Conservatives were on the defensive in question period over their proposed legislation.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the government’s action and the bill’s measures which include wage increases that are lower than the ones offered to the union by Canada Post.
OTTAWA, June 20, 2011 /CNW/ – The federal government’s back-to-work bill penalizes postal workers and rewards Canada Post for locking out employees and stopping mail delivery nationwide.
The bill legislates wage increases that fall significantly below Canada Post’s last offer. Canada Post’s last offer was 1.9% in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and 2.0 % in 2014, well below the 3.3% rate of inflation. The Tories’ bill would lower that even further with 1.75 % in 2011, 1.5% in 2012, 2% in 2013 and 2% in 2014.
"Imposing wage increases that are lower than Canada Post’s last offer punishes postal workers for a disruption that was caused by the corporation’s national lockout," said CUPW National President Denis Lemelin.
"The bill would take $875.50 out of the pockets of an average full-time postal worker during the four years of the agreement. All told, it represents a theft of $35 million from postal workers and their families."
Lemelin said the government’s heavy-handed interventions will damage labour relations for years to come. The last time the federal government imposed back to work legislation in 1997, it included a provision that ensured the mediator arbitrator considered the importance of good labour-management relations. The current legislation contains no such provision.
"The arbitrator who is assigned to do the final offer selection will not have to live with the results," said Lemelin. "An imposed settlement will not help the post office in the long term."
On Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19, Canada Post will publish full-colour ads in 19 Canadian newspapers, promoting epost as the ideal solution to receive, pay, and manage bills.
In doing so, Canada Post recognizes the inconvenience that Canadians have had to endure as a result of the current labour situation. In addition to keeping you informed on the state of negotiations with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), by promoting epost, we wish to inform our customers that Canada Post offers an alternative way for Canadian businesses and consumers to stay connected at all times.
This is in the spirit of many recent promotional campaigns launched by billers, such as phone, cable, and power companies, and credit card issuers, leveraging the current labour situation to convince Canadians to switch to electronic direct billing solutions.
In the full page ad, headlined â€œAn Important Message To Canada Post Customersâ€, Canada Post apologizes â€œfor the inconvenience being caused by the current postal disruption.â€
The ad acknowledges that Canadians are increasingly being solicited to sign up to receive their bills electronically. Consumers have to go to several different websites and maintain passwords, which many find both confusing and time-consuming.
The ad positions epost as an alternative to multiple individual online relationships with billers. It is centered on epostâ€™s unique proposition of combining biller relationships into a single online destination, using the simple tag line: â€œone password, one login â€“ your bills all in one placeâ€.
With epost, consumers are less likely to forget to pay a bill and incur late charges.
The ad urges Canadians to get their free epost online mailbox at epost.ca.
The ad will appear in either Saturday or Sunday editions of 19 Canadian newspapers, including the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, and Montrealâ€™s La Presse, with combined circulations of over 3.3 million copies.
This ad complements a number of marketing and advertising activities, such as an email campaign that reached over 400,000 epost users, front-page visibility on canadapost.ca, banner advertising on high-profile online media, and truck signage.
View this weekendâ€™s full-page newspaper ad here.
Contrary to media reports, there have been no negotiations taking place in Ottawa. Today, CPC contacted the finance sub-table asking us to provide them with costing information. They also suggested they may have questions concerning our most recent proposals, which they have already told us they rejected. Just as they have done for almost eight months, CPC is waiting for the back-to-work legislation that they so desperately wanted. Instead of negotiating, they will be provided with a government-appointed arbitrator, who will have a mandate to attack the rights and benefits that postal workers have struggled for decades to achieve.
Timeline of Treachery
May 24: CPC begins its disinformation campaign. It issues a news release claiming CUPW demands would cost $1.4 Billion. It never attempts to explain the number.
June 1: CPC continues its disinformation campaign and claims mail volumes have declined 17% since 2006.
June 2-11:59 p.m.: CUPW begins rotating strikes.
June 3: CPC cuts off drug coverage and other benefits to all employees, including those on sick leave and disability insurance.
June 7: CPC claims mail volumes have declined by 50% since June 3rd. This does not correspond with information from postal facilities.
June 8: CPC announces it will stop letter carrier delivery on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
June 9: Labour Minister Lisa Raitt requests that the union suspends its rotating strikes and that CPC resumes postal service. CPC Chief Operating Officer claims CUPW has more than 50 demands on the table. CPC reneges on several of their offers.
June 10: CUPW agrees to suspend strike activity and continues to negotiate. At 6 p.m., Canada Post management rejects the union’s offer.
June 13: CUPW accuses Canada Post of aggressively trying to force postal workers out on a full-scale national strike in order to secure back-to-work legislation from the majority Conservative government.
June 14 (morning): CPC claims to have lost $70 million in revenue since June 3rd. In answering the question of a reporter, Labour Minister Raitt says there is no need for back-to-work legislation at Canada Post since it is only a rotating strike and the mail was still moving.
June 14 (evening): CPC claims to have lost almost $100 million in revenue since June 3rd. It announces an immediate national lockout.
June 15 (morning): Labour Minister Raitt says she has received very few complaints about the rotating postal strikes.
June 15 (afternoon): Labour Minister Raitt announces that in response to CPC’s national lockout she will introduce back-to-work legislation.
The manner by which CPC provoked the government to introduce back-to-work legislation, explains their refusal to truly negotiate during the past eight months. They began negotiations determined to attack the rights and benefits of the workers who have made Canada Post a profitable company for 16 years. Now they have been rewarded for their intransigence by the Harper government.
Canada Post informed us today that their suspension of service will last at least until some time next week as they await the Canadian governmentâ€™s action on back-to-work legislation.
As a result, effective 11:59 p.m. CDT Saturday, June 18, USPSÂ® will stop accepting all mail destined for Canada, with the exception of Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) service.
Customers can avoid service disruptions by using GXG service, which is available online at www.usps.com and at thousands of participating retail locations throughout the U.S.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation. Once Canada Post announces that they will resume operations, we will again begin accepting mail destined to Canada and mail currently being held in our network will be dispatched.
Today, we met with CPC president Deepak Chopra and other members of the CPC Negotiating Committee. We discussed all of the major issues that remain in dispute and the problems associated with CPC’s bargaining strategy during the last eight months of negotiations.
We explained to Mr. Chopra the movements that the Union has made on both our demands and management’s issues.
We also reviewed the mandate of the post office under the Canada Post Corporation Act and stressed the need to improve both labour relations and service to the public.
Mr. Chopra discussed the financial losses incurred by CPC as a result of the national lockout and our rotating strikes and stated management would be re-evaluating its position.
Time For Decision
Mr. Chopra has a major decision to make during the next few days. It is clear that the parties are still far apart because of CPC’s demands for concessions and their refusal to address the proposals of the union on issues such as health and safety, staffing and service expansion. If Canada Post management has the will, there is still a way to negotiate an agreement. The parties are both completely aware of the issues.
There is still time to negotiate if CPC wants to.
Postal Workers Can Be Proud
On behalf of the CUPW National Executive Board and National Negotiating Committee, I wish to congratulate every member of the Union for your courage and discipline during our rotating strikes and CPC’s national lockout. This has been a long and difficult eight months of negotiations.
Throughout this process, we have demonstrated, time and time again, that our greatest strength is the commitment and resolve of the membership, 48,000 strong, proud and determined.