As we go to press, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) suspended its latest strike deadline of May 26 so that collective bargaining can continue. By law, the union is required to give a 72-hour strike notice. The Union submitted a global offer to the employer on May 22 in a bid to narrow differences and reach a settlement. Management continues to take a hard line, egged on by conservative organizations like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and is seeking major concessions.
Postal workers know much is at stake, and seem to be ready to take on a belligerent corporation and a right wing Conservative government with a new parliamentary majority.
“We hope the sky-high strike vote and the record turnout of our members will put pressure on Canada Post to negotiate,” said Canadian Union of Postal Workers' National President Denis Lemelin in a statement released April 18 on the union's web site.
He was referring to the inspiring 94.5 per cent vote in favour of going on strike, if necessary, to obtain a good collective agreement.
CUPW's 48,000 members know the issues well. That was evident in the unprecedented participation in the strike vote.
Management wants to create a two-tier system. Workers now earn about $25 an hour, and Canada Post has proposed $18 an hour for new employees, Lemelin told the Toronto Star. “Canada Post wants to create a cheap labour force, where they have lower wages, less holidays, some benefits, and pension changes.”
Management wants to weaken job security and end the banking of sick days in favour of a short-term disability program. Its wage proposal is below the rate of inflation, so it amounts to a wage cut for everyone.
The results of the vote show that postal workers will not accept these rollbacks. In this respect, CUPW is setting a powerful example for the entire labour movement.
Canada Post is about to celebrate its 16th consecutive year of profits. The corporation also plans to make huge productivity gains through modernization. Postal workers deserve to share in the benefits.
If it comes to a strike, postal workers pledge to deliver pension and social assistance cheques, voluntarily and without interruption. No other mail or parcels will move.
As for the duration, members of Canada's most militant, democratic union are fond of saying: “The longer the picket line, the shorter the strike.”
The article above was written by Elizabeth Byce.