OUR VIEW: CUPW handcuffed by back-to-work bill

Back-to-work legislation being tabled in Ottawa greatly hinders CUPW's ability to collectively bargain.

The Canada Post work stoppage continues, although as of press time, there is back-to-work legislation being tabled in the House of Commons.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt brought the bill (Bill C-6) to the table on Monday and it seeks to have both sides submitting their best offer to an arbitrator – appointed by the federal government – who decides on which one will come into effect.

According to reports, it also includes wage raises that are below what Canada Post and CUPW both brought to the table last time around.

CUPW says Canada Post last proposed a 1.9 per cent increase for the next three years inclusive and a two per cent increase in 2014 while the legislation is calling for a 1.75 per cent increase this year, a raise of 1.5 per cent in 2012 and two per cent increases in 2013 and 2014.

The Canada Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is, not surprisingly, against the legislation stating that the federal Conservative government is taking away its right to collectively bargain freely and even goes as far as saying it “represents a theft” from workers and their families.

Back-to-work legislation is necessary for essential services and while Canada Post officials have been quoted as saying there has been a decline in mail delivery, many people and communities, including rural ones such as Grand Forks, rely heavily on postal service.

However, upon first inspection of the bill, it seems to favour Canada Post, as firstly, the wage increases are less than offered in Canada Post’s last proposal.

The fact that Canada Post is a Crown corporation and that the federal government will select the arbitrator seems like a conflict of interest; at least there is a potential for, or the perception of a conflict of interest.

Furthermore, there is language in the bill that prohibits the union from “questioning the appointment of the arbitrator” or disputing “any proceeding or decision by the arbitrator.”

From first inspection of the bill, it seems as if the legislation is to the advantage of Canada Post and the CUPW’s rights to collectively bargain or compromise are being quashed.

It is assumed that collective bargaining is supposed to be a two-way street but it doesn’t seem that is the case.

–Grand Forks Gazette