Montreal postal workers back to work after last-minute strike

Canada Post workers in Montreal spent Tuesday morning on the picket line, before back-to-work legislation went into effect at noon.

Workers spent Tuesday morning on the picket line before back-to-work legislation went into effect at noon

Canada Post workers returned to work Tuesday after the government ordered them to end their rotating strike. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Canada Post employees were back at work in Montreal Tuesday afternoon after spending the morning on the picket line. 

Local members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) went on strike Monday evening. It was not an order from national union leaders, members say.

Senators voted Monday in favour of the Liberal government's legislation to force Canada Post employees back to work — a move that was quickly given royal assent.

The Senate vote, which passed by a margin of 53 to 25 with four abstentions, put an end to six weeks of rotating strikes. 

Canada Post workers were ordered to return to work by 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it is exploring all options to fight the back-to-work order.

Frustrated by back-to-work legislation

Tuesday's early morning strike in front of the sorting centre in Montreal's Saint-Laurent borough was the second work stoppage this month in the city by postal workers.

Canada Post worker Hakim Kaddouri told CBC News the back-to-work legislation is frustrating, since it's the second time since 2011 that the federal government has ended Canada Post strikes in such a fashion.

"We have the right to go on strike," he said. "How can we deal with our employer if we have twice this special law?"

The union's only power is the ability to strike, he said, and the government is taking that power away.

Canada Post workers burned pallets to keep warm early Tuesday as they picketed the sorting centre in the borough of Saint-Laurent. (Alain Béland/Radio-Canada)

Union representative Annie Lesage said she expects CUPW will fight the legislation.

"We will fight it as long as we can," she said. "We did it in 2011. We won the battle against the back-to-work legislation. If we have to go for it, we'll do it."

Along with its request for safety improvements in the workplace, the CUPW wants better pay, job security, guaranteed hours and equality.

"Our struggle is not for the money," Lesage said. "People will go back, working the same way they did for the last 10 years. We're saying there are a lot of injuries. It's not the work, it's the work Canada Post is putting on its workers."

With files from Lauren McCallum


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