Time for postal employees to go back to work

The rotating strikes for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) are over.

The federal government has enacted back to work legislation, forcing the union members to return to their regular hours.

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The postal workers aren’t happy, but that’s to be expected.

And Canadians are happy that their Christmas parcels can still get to their intended destination in time for Dec. 25.

A pseudo-strike like this once again raises the question of whether Canada Post is an essential service. It certainly isn’t one like law enforcement and medical personnel. But there are people who still rely on Canada Post to get them their cheques, or to deliver their bill payments to the needed destination

This reliance on Canada Post is hard for many young people to grasp. But for many of a certain age, Canada Post is essential throughout the year.

And at this time of year, Canada Post is an essential service. There are a lot of small businesses who rely on the Crown corporation to deliver packages out to customers. If these rotating strikes were to have continued much longer, a lot of Canadians would have had to keep their Christmas trees up well into January to have gifts under the tree.

The federal government had to make a move. Yes, they have ticked off the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and other labour groups. But if they would have allowed the rotating strikes to linger much longer, they would have run the risk of agitating many more Canadians who are going to rely on the postal service over the next few weeks.

Don’t forget that the Liberal Party still has a pretty good base of supporters who run small and medium-sized businesses.

And many of the union people who are voicing their displeasure right now will vote Liberal in the next election, because they aren’t going to vote for Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, and frankly, Jagmeet Singh hasn’t given anyone much of a reason to vote for the New Democratic Party since he became leader more than a year ago.

As for the CUPW claims that there wasn’t a backlog, most Canadians saw through that as nonsense. Statements like that only hurt the CUPW’s credibility in the eyes of most Canadians. And they aren’t going to clear that backlog right away.

The nature of the postal workers’ job has changed, and that needs to be reflected in the next collective bargaining agreement. They’re dealing with more heavy lifting than ever before. It’s resulted in a significant increase in the number of workplace-related injuries.

Fewer letters and packages are being shipped. But larger items account for a greater share of the shipping volumes, as more Canadians turn to online shopping.

These issues need to be factored in when looking at the next deal.

We know how this is going to end. Eventually a settlement will be reached. Both sides will grumble about the deal, but they’ll say they got what they wanted.

And at some point in the future, a judge or a court will rule that the federal government went beyond its jurisdiction in forcing employees to go back to work. That ruling will likely come in a few years, once everyone has forgotten about this latest work stoppage.

And at some point in the 2020s, we’ll go through this whole process once again.

Hopefully it won’t happen around Christmas time. We have more important things to do than sending our parcels in the middle of November to make sure they get to their destination on time.

 

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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