CUPW not happy about government’s back-to-work legislation

CUPW workers in Grand Forks (local 746) are not happy that the federal government is trying to pass back-to-work legislation.

Canada Post operations have been shut down since the middle of last week.

Workers who are currently locked out could be forced back to work as a result of legislation currently going through Parliament.

In Grand Forks, Gregg Anderson, vice-president of Canada Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) local 746 said the workers are not happy  with the path the federal government has chosen to deal with the  negotiations.

“The union doesn’t believe that government should get involved,” Anderson said.

“We should be allowed to bargain without them sticking their noses in.”

The lockout came as a result of contract negotiations with Canada Post and follows 12 days of rotating strikes by union members across Canada and just two days after the Crown corporation cut hours for offices to just three days a week.

Anderson said they were pretty shocked when they found out they’d been locked out on the night of  June 14. He said that they’ve seen a lot of support from the community.

“The lockout itself has been amazing, because of the support here in the community we’ve seen,” Anderson said.

“It’s been much more than I would have thought actually, not because anything that we’re doing is wrong, but because people really care a lot more than we thought. (It’s) been a very positive experience; the support of the community is very much appreciated.”

Canada Post said that the lockout was to expedite the negotiation process.

“We reassessed the situation last night (June 14) and came to a decision that we needed to do something to really try to push the issue and bring about a timely resolution,” said Eugene Knapik, a spokesperson for Canada Post last week.

He said that the 12 days of rotating strikes had been very problematic for the company.

“We’ve estimated revenue losses approaching $100 million to date and that figure’s been climbing,” he said at the time.

“As well, it’s been very, very difficult to schedule staff; to schedule the network.”

He said that there have also been some incidents that have raised concerns about Canada Post’s ability to move the mail.

Knapik couldn’t comment on any details of those incidents, saying only that they were concerned and want to keep customers safe.

He said that Canada Post is hoping to get a settlement as quickly as possible.

“We haven’t been making a lot of progress at the negotiating tables and we felt that this was the best way to bring about a timely resolution to the impasse,” he said.

“We are trying to get the union to consider proposals that address our changing business realities.”

He said these realities include declining mail volumes and a $3.2 million pension deficit.

“We have an attractive offer, we think, on the table and we’re trying to get the union to give it some serious consideration.”

At the time, Knapik added he couldn’t speculate about what the government would do in terms of the legislation.

If passed, the legislation forces workers back to work with per-day penalties if they don’t. The government will also appoint an arbitrator to choose one of the two parties’ contract.