Editorial – Get back to work

This week's editorial looks at Back-to-Work legislation in relation to the looming Canada Post lockout.

First used on August 22, 1950 to shut down Canada’s railway union that put a halt to railway transport nationwide, Back-to-Work Legislation has been used 33 times in Canadian history. The last time the Federal government successfully used the legislation was in June 2011, when the House of Commons passed a bill to stop the Canada Post labour dispute, forcing some 48,000 employees back to work. Interestingly enough, when the legislation is next used, it may very well be against Canada Post employees, despite the government believing in “good-faith negotiations.” It is also important to note that Canada Post is a Crown corporation that is owned by the government, the very people who can enact the Back-to-Work legislation.

Recently, postal workers have challenged the 2011 dispute as they say it denied them key charter protections. The 2011 settlement not only ordered the workers back to the job but also set a settlement that included a lower wage increase than Canada Post previously offered as well as deciding the term of agreements and inflicting a negative impact on the workers pension plans. Furthermore, the law ordered a final-offer selection process, which the union viewed as a winner take all scenario.

While there are no plans for a total lockout or walk off as of the afternoon of July 5, it is hard not to consider what will happen to a long-time community lifeblood service, which will directly affect the majority of Elk Valley citizens. While “essential” mail like Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan, and the Canada Child Benefit will continue to be delivered, I’m left to wonder what postage will not be delivered.

For months, Canada Post has been warning its clients that a strike may occur and to shift mailing habits to another carrier.

Canada Post also believes that the $1 billion in demands from Canada Union of Postal Workers was unaffordable and therefore rejected.

According to a Globe and Mail article, Canada Post posted a revenue of $8 billion in 2015, matching their revenue from 2014, which serve as peaks in the revenue years for the company. 2015 also served as the second year in a row the company has stayed in the green, posting an estimated $99 million in profit for the 2015 calendar year. Interestingly, since 2008, the volume of deliveries that Canada Post delivers has been declining, dropping almost 200 million from 2014 to 2015. Despite the decline, posted packages grew by 9.7 percent, or 16 million pieces from 2014 to 2015.

While it is currently uncertain what will happen in this situation, one thing is sure – Canadians will be affected.