B.C. union members show support for Canada Post workers

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers say members of several major unions in B.C. have set up picket-lines at the Pacific Processing Centre near YVR in solidarity with postal workers who have been ordered back to work.

Members of other labour groups set up picket-lines at the Pacific Processing Centre in Richmond

Protesters at the entrance leading to the Canada Post Processing Centre in Richmond, where they slow traffic heading in and out of the building and rally the support of postal workers. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Members from several major B.C. unions have set up picket-lines at a mail plant in Richmond, B.C., in solidarity with postal workers who have been legislated back to work. 

Federal back-to-work legislation took effect at noon ET Tuesday after more than five weeks of rotating strikes. The government claimed it was forced to act because of the upcoming Christmas holiday season.

Workers forming picket lines in front of the facility say the forced legislation hampers the postal workers' right to collectively bargain. They formed a line interfering with trucks moving in and out of the building. The Richmond plant is the third largest in the country.

RCMP were on scene to ensure that the protesters weren't blocking traffic, which is a criminal offence.

"We're not stopping anything, we're just delaying things," said tug boat worker Terry Engler. "It's important that the government understand that you can't do this to workers and have no consequences."

"Workers need to protect each other. We need to protect the bottom — the people who are paid the lowest," he added. "Because, basically, if we don't do that, then all our wages go down."

Many of the workers behind the wheel honked in solidarity with the protesters.

'A fight with labour'

CUPW national president Mike Palecek says while his 50,000 members are prohibited from picketing, other union members face don't face the same restrictions.

Protesters voice their concerns to RCMP officers who were dispatched to ensure the demonstration did not block traffic or threaten public safety. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

"What we're seeing in Vancouver today is that instead of resolving our dispute with Canada Post, the Trudeau government has picked a fight with labour," Palecek said in a statement. " 'An injury to one is an injury to all' is much more than a slogan."

The ongoing Canada Post strike arose out of failed negotiations between the union and the Crown corporation. The union is pushing for improved job security, an end to forced overtime and better health and safety measures.

Workers have mounted rotating strikes across the country since mid-October. Parcels have been piling up and deliveries from other countries have been suspended.

Canada Post says it's doing what it can to get mail and parcels sorted in B.C. while the non-CUPW pickets disrupted delivery truck traffic.

Members from other B.C. unions are supporting postal workers by setting up picket lines at the Pacific Processing Centre in Richmond, B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"Canada Post is making every effort to minimize service disruptions and resolve the situation."

The agency has warned of significant delivery delays across the country through January as a result of the rotating strikes by CUPW members that began Oct. 22.

With files from Jon Hernandez and The Canadian Press