Postal Workers, The Labour Movement, & The Right to Strike!
What’s going on down at the old Post Office?
If you follow mainstream media you undoubtedly know about Postal Workers conducting a rotating strike during the “Christmas season”. As I pause for your gasp and outrage, did you also know that they have been attempting to negotiate with Canada Post for 8 months?
Did you know that Canada Post has given no meaningful considerations to any of their demands throughout this time? Did you know that Postal Workers haven’t had a negotiated collective agreement for over a decade despite seeing THREE structural changes to the jobs and THREE new contracts during that time? Did you know that without meaningful negotiations CUPW has yet to be able to change the working conditions that have resulted in an injury rate that is FIVE TIMES the industry standard? Did you know that they earn 15% less than the prevailing wage in the industry?
The Labour Movement in the 21st Century
Now that your outrage has undoubtedly subsided, you might be thinking that the only way for them to get an updated contract would be through collective bargaining. Yet, if there is no will from Canada Post to bargain they will have no choice but to strike. Well, unfortunately the Liberal Government of Canada has decided to strip them of the right to strike and by extension their ability to bargain. They say that it’s different from the unconstitutional legislation the Harper Government used to force them back to work because it encourages the two parties to negotiate before the arbitrated contract is imposed. However, it may not come as a shock to you to find out that as of December 6th Canada Post has actually packed up and left the negotiating conference without even notifying the union. However, this isn’t actually shocking, it’s the only logical reason why they refused to negotiate for the past 9 months. Canada Posts only strategy has been to delay until the government steps in, and that’s exactly what they have accomplished. The long term consequence of not allowing a group of workers to express their concerns and kicking the can down the road leads to a complete breakdown.
No Strikes but the General Strike!
The fact is the right to strike is part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a reason. Collective bargaining allows workers to improve their conditions (by extensions all workers). Being stripped of this right effects all unions in Canada and calls into question the basic need for them if an unjust law can remove their collective power and render them ineffectual. It is the responsibility of the entire working class to refuse the unjust laws created by elites for their benefit and as a point of virtue encourage and respect just laws that work for the benefit of all Canadians. It is not simply a coincidence that the motto of organized labour is “that an injury to one is an injury to all!”