Government-named arbitrator to dictate Canada Post workers’ contract
29 December 2018
Following the stipulations of the strikebreaking legislation the federal Liberal government rammed through parliament in late November, a government-appointed “mediator-arbitrator” has now been tasked with dictating the labor contracts for 50,000 Canada Post letter carriers, mail sorters, truck drivers, and post office clerks.
The arbitrator, former Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) Chair Elizabeth MacPherson, acted as mediator between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) for seven days ending December 17. Under the Liberals’ anti-strike law, this mediation process could have been extended for a further seven days. But all parties to the talks agreed this was pointless.
Through months of negotiations, government-owned Canada Post refused to even begin to address postal workers’ key concerns. These include a spike in injuries, forced overtime, two-tier wages, and precarious employment. Instead, Canada Post management relied, as it has for decades, on the readiness of the government of the day, whether Liberal or Conservative, to illegalize postal workers’ job action.
CUPW has praised MacPherson as “very knowledgeable” and touted her decades of experience in labour negotiations. In fact, as a federal mediator and later CIRB chair, she has worked to contain and suppress the class struggle and police Canada’s anti-worker labour laws. Named by the previous Harper Conservative government in 2011 to arbitrate a dispute between Air Canada and its 6,800 flight attendants, MacPherson imposed a concessionary contract on the workers they had twice rejected.
The criminalization of the postal workers’ five-week campaign of rotating…