Canada Post: Back to Work – It’s the Law

Following a rotating strike and a lockout, the Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services (the “Act“) officially entered into force on Monday night. The Act ends the dispute between Canada Post and its 48,000 employees and imposes “final offer selection arbitration”. Everybody should have gotten some mail yesterday.
The law imposes specific salary increases for the years 2011 to 2014. Unlike all other provisions of the agreement, the parties cannot chose to agree to different salary levels and the arbitrator is bound to include them in the final collective agreement. It is interesting to mention that the increases are slightly lower than the initial offer proposed by the employer at the beginning of negotiations. Indeed, according to the Government, they reflect the wage levels set out in the last collective agreement negotiated with civil servants.

In the coming days, the Minister of Labour will appoint an arbitrator to settle disputes and impose a collective agreement. The parties will be required to submit to the arbitrator a list of issues on which they agreed and a list of issues on which they did not reached an agreement. In addition, each party must submit a final offer of settlement. The arbitrator must choose between, in its entirety, one of the two propositions submitted. However, at any time before the arbitrator renders his decision, the parties may choose to negotiate a new negotiated collective agreement on their own (within the confines laid out by the Act).
The labour dispute and this legislation have been the cause of much dispute, both in Parliament and in the media. What do you think? Was it enacted too soon? Too late? Right on time? Is the Act fair?

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Comments

  1. David Collier-Brown

    I wonder if Parliament should legislate particular cases at all?

    There certainly were acts in the distant past that only applied to particular companies or individuals, notably ones incorporating companies or granting divorces, but this is far from the norm in the present day.

    Does or should Parliament consider itself bound to legislating for the whole country, or does it consider that it should be able to pass “bills of pains and penalties” in the current day? [Ok, I admit thats a bit tongue-in-cheek]

    In addition, should the government put forward laws that extinguish the rights of its own employees, in response to a conflict between its managers and its employees? That seems something of a conflict of interest!

    From a public policy standpoint, I’d be a lot happier with a law that says that all postal services are now essential services, and must be operated under the preexisting laws and regulations governing such services.

    –dave

  2. This law is a travesty, and it is gratifying to hear CUPW will challenge it in court. The message needs to be hammered home that labour rights are fundamental human rights. Workers have an inalienable right to collectively bargain their terms of employment. The provisions legislating wages should be struck down fairly easily, and, hopefully, the courts will also rule against the biased arbitration provisions.