Union leaders are mounting fierce opposition to Liberal legislation that would force Canada Post employees back to work.
Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff and Canadian Union of Postal Workers president Mike Palecek are holding a news conference at 10 a.m. ET on Parliament Hill today, and CBCNews.ca will carry it live.
Palecek called the back-to-work bill « unconscionable » on Thursday, and said it flies in the face of the Liberal government’s stated support for organized labour.
MPs will also continue debate this morning on a motion to fast-track the bill in the House of Commons. It’s not yet clear when the actual bill could be up for debate, but the Senate is prepared to sit on the weekend to consider any bill that may clear the House of Commons.
In 2011, the former Conservative government passed back-to-work legislation for Canada Post workers which was subsequently challenged on constitutional grounds.
Five years later, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in favour of the postal workers, finding the legislation unconstitutional because it violated the workers’ freedom of association and expression as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
‘Dramatically different’ approach
Asked why the Liberal legislation would not also violate those constitutional rights, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday the Liberals have taken a « dramatically different » approach from the Conservatives’ legislation. The former government did not allow for labour disruption and took pre-emptive action that was harmful to the labour movement, she said.
« We have taken every effort over a long period of time to assist these parties to come to a negotiated agreement, » she said.
Canada Post is in its fifth week of rotating strikes by thousands of unionized workers, with no sign yet of a breakthrough in contract negotiations.
Hajdu said those strikes are negatively impacting small business, people in rural and remote communities and low-income Canadians relying on cheques to pay their bills.