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Postal workers return to picket lines as Senate set to debate back-to-work bill

Last Updated Nov 26, 2018 at 6:49 am PDT

Canada Post picketers in Richmond prevented anyone from getting past the line on Monday, Turning trucks and other vehicles away. (Ash Kelly, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Postal workers are back out on the picket line as the Senate continues to debate the back-to-work legislation today

Some postal workers aren't optimistic as Senate set to debate back-to-work bill passed in House of Commons last week

Senators set to resume a special sitting to debate a back-to-work bill that would force an end to Canada Post strikes

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – It is pouring rain on the Canada Post picket line in Richmond where workers are not happy with the prospect of being legislated back to work today.

Outside the postal sorting facility in Richmond, striking postal workers say they don’t have a lot of optimism, as bill C-89 is back in the hands of the Senate, which could vote on the legislation today.

Some, like Jamie, fully expect to be forced back to work once again, even as negotiations continue.

“So here we are now… the third time in a row, three contracts in a decade that have been terrible, and we’ve been just trying to fight for it,” he tells NEWS 1130. “This is what we’re doing, we’re not stopping the mail, we’re slowing the mail down. We know what we’re doing, they don’t have a clue.”

A special sitting of the Senate has dragged into Monday after special sittings began through the weekend.

Negotiations between the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Crown Corporation have been ongoing for nearly a year. They continue despite the legislation being rushed through the House of Commons last week, however, workers say they’re not hopeful an agreement can be reached.

“We’ve been negotiating for over two years because we knew this deadline was coming around Christmas time. That’s why the pressure has continued because there’s no impetus or incentive for them to negotiate. Right now is the only time we’ve got them, right now. So if it’s not now, it’s never.”

The rotating walkouts have caused backlogs at sorting facilities nationwide approaching the holidays.

On Monday morning, trucks packed with parcels were being turned back as they were set out for sorting.

“I don’t know where they’ll take it, to the yard?” Andrew Parmar, who speaks for the union, says.

The legislation being debated by the Senate is aimed at ending the rotating strikes at Canada Post facilities across the country, which have entered their sixth week.

The dispute between the union and Canada Post escalated on Oct. 22. CUP-W has vowed to continue walkouts to back its contract demands.

They include better pay and jobs security, guaranteed hours for its rural and suburban carriers, and equality demands.

The union says it also wants Canada Post to adopt rules that it believes would cut down on workplace injuries.

If enacted, bill C-89 would see anyone who violates the Act fined between $1,000 and $50,000 per day, and up to $100,000 per day against Canada Post or CUP-W if they are found guilty of violating its terms.

Related video: Senate debating bill to end Canada Post strikes

– With files from the Canadian Press