PEI

Charlottetown postal workers forced back to work Tuesday

Charlottetown postal workers walked out on strike Tuesday morning, but then federal legislation ordered an end to the job action as of 1 p.m. AT.

Legislation forced workers back at 1 p.m.

Charlottetown area postal workers walked off the job Tuesday to protest the back-to-work legislation passed by the Senate Monday. They were forced back to work at 1 p.m. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Charlottetown postal workers were forced back to work Tuesday afternoon after striking all morning — federal legislation ordered an end to job action as of 1 p.m. AT.

Charlottetown was one of dozens of communities across the country where CUPW implemented last-minute strikes or workplace occupations. The Senate passed the federal government's back-to-work legislation Monday evening.

Pearl Gillis-Palmer, president of CUPW Charlottetown, maintains the impact rotating strikes have had on delivery times has been overblown by Canada Post. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"We're protesting because we feel the [legislation] clearly violated our right to free collective bargaining," said Pearl Gillis-Palmer, president of the Charlottetown branch of CUPW, said Tuesday morning.

"We just want a fair contract and we want it now, and we don't want to be legislated back to work. But that's what's going to happen today."

Management and union at Canada Post have been negotiating a new contract for more than a year, and CUPW started rotating strikes on Oct. 22.

There are still a large number of issues on the table, including pay, job security, equity between the Crown corporation's rural and urban workers, and new rules to cut down on workplace injuries.

UPEI Faculty Association joins postal workers 

On Tuesday morning, the vice-president of UPEI's Faculty Association, Michael Arfken, joined striking workers outside Canada Post near the Charlottetown Airport. 

Michael Arfken, vice-president of UPEI's Faculty Association, joined striking postal workers on the picket line Tuesday morning. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Arfken told workers his union is "standing in solidarity in with their strike."

"I mean whatever happens with one union has implications for all the other unions," Arfken said. "Obviously the precedent of legislating back to work is a concern for all unions. And we share the concern about the importance of negotiating rather than legislating."

Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu has called the back-to-work legislation a last resort, only being implemented because of the "significant negative impacts" the rotating strikes have had on parcel and mail delivery, particularly for businesses and charities.

'Where are the delays?'

Gillis-Palmer maintains Canada's Posts assertion that the strikes have caused major backlogs and slowed delivery has been exaggerated. 

"Like Amazon, people shop there a lot, there's a lot of packages coming through. We delivered one on Monday, and the lady said 'Wow, I ordered that Saturday morning, and it's here.' So where's the backlog? Where are the delays? There isn't one. It's just normal volumes for Christmas," said Gillis-Palmer. 

This was the second time P.E.I. postal workers have been a part of the strikes. Workers across the Island walked off the job on Oct. 31. 

More P.E.I. news

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