Postal workers hold rallies in 4 cities
Published Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:34PM EDT
Locked-out Canada Post workers held rallies in four cities Saturday to protest looming back-to-work legislation.
Unionized workers lobbied MPs and held rallies in Halifax, Sydney, N.S. and Toronto in a bid to win public support after 48,000 workers were locked out on Tuesday, following 12 days of rotating strikes by the union.
The demonstrations follow Friday's rallies in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Windsor, Ont.
In Vancouver Saturday, NDP Leader Jack Layton said the postal union has every right to push for a fair deal through collective bargaining. He also pledged to fight the Conservative government to push for workers.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers president, Denis Lemelin said the objective was to make CUPW's issues known to Canadians in the upcoming days.
In a statement released on Friday, Canada Post said the main issues that continue to divide the Crown Corporation and unionists include wages, pension and sick leave.
Echoing Canada Post president Deepak Chopra's disappointment with the union's position, the statement said that "the union continues to have too many demands that would drive up costs, limit operational flexibility and restrict Canada Post's ability to address fundamental problems such as declining mail volumes, competitiveness and a $3.2-billion deficit in the pension plan."
The statement went on to say that the union was culpable for the corporation's weakened financial state, amounting to a total of $100 million in lost revenues, due to 24-hour rotating strikes that began on June 3.
But Lemelin said it was the union, not Canada Post, who has the most to lose.
"We have to stand up on this issue," he said on Friday. "They (the Post Office) have the support of the Harper government."
On Friday, on the CUPW website, Lemelin wrote that contrary to earlier media report, there have been no scheduled talks in Ottawa between union negotiators and Canada Post.
Lemelin also took the opportunity to assail Canada Post for their lack of cooperation and "refusal to truly negotiate."
"Just as they have done for almost eight months, (Canada Post) is waiting for the back-to-work legislation that they so desperately wanted. Instead of negotiating, they will be provided with a government-appointed arbitrator, who will have a mandate to attack the rights and benefits that postal workers have struggled for decades to achieve."
Service could be another week
On Friday, the United States Postal Service said it will stop accepting most mail to Canada until the dispute has been settled.
In a statement on its website, the USPS said "due to the expectation by Canada Post officials that the strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will last until at least sometime next week" service will be suspended beginning Saturday at 11:59 central daylight time.
Service, however, will not be suspended for Global Express Guaranteed shipments, one of two international express mail services.
In Canada, some mail will continue to move on Monday.
Both union workers and Canada Post have agreed to deliver social assistance and pension cheques, regardless of the dispute's status.