Voice: Postal - July/August 2011 - (Page 10)
VOICE JULY | AUGUST 2011
“Astonishing collusion” between company bosses and Canada’s newly elected Conservative government saw new laws introduced last month, which forced striking Canadian postal workers to end their strike and imposed a below-inflation pay settlement...
CWU SALUTES CUPW-STTP
alkouts had begun at the start of June, when postal union CUPW-STTP called the first in a series of "rotating strikes" - an innovative tactic, which saw the CUPWSTTP executive call different "locals" (branches) out on strike each day.
Strikers in Frenchspeaking Montreal getting their message across to Canadians during the strike
In cities and towns small and large, from Winnipeg to Windsor, Montreal to Mauricie, in every locality the valiant postwomen and Postmen of Canada walked out in turn, members of each and every "local" proudly taking their turn on the front line of the struggle. Having expecting an all-out stoppage, red-faced Canada Post chiefs were left helpless, unable to plan their response and unaware which part of the nation would be struck next. With the effect of the action steadily growing, the company failing in its attempts to break the workers’ unity and losing the battle for public opinion, media speculation grew over possible emergency "back-to-work" legislation. Here in the UK, such laws are unfamiliar to us, but in Canada, legislators have enacted emergency new statutes in some instances in the past where vital services are thought at risk. Initially, even Canada’s newly elected Conservative government was reluctant to intervene, employment minister Linda Raitt urging both sides to reach agreement themselves when questioned over the dispute in parliament. But, rather than negotiate seriously - or even accept the union’s offer to suspend the strikes providing the existing "status quo" was respected by the company while talks continued - CPC began to restrict services and, increasingly, to tell
workers in some areas not to report for duty, action that was condemned by the union as a "partial lockout." On June 13, as the second week of action began, CUPW-STTP president Denis Lemelin accused the company of "trying to force postal workers out on a full-scale national strike in order to secure back-to-work legislation from the majority Conservative government." On June 14, Canada Post took the extraordinary decision to lock out its postal workers and abruptly halt services right across the country, announcing brazenly to a shocked public that "a lockout is the best way to bring a timely resolution to this impasse." This action from the company quickly gained the desired response from the government, Ms Raitt telling Canada’s media the next day: "We’re going to reassess the effect on the general public interest now that there’s a complete work stoppage." And the following evening, she announced: "Tonight we will be putting on notice legislation to restore mail delivery service for Canadians."
LAW STEPS IN
Despite the best efforts of opposition members of parliament, and angry public protests and rallies, Ms Raitt’s Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Bill passed through parliament, receiving Royal Assent and coming into force as an Act of Parliament within a fortnight. Paragraph 3(b) of the new Act effectively commands postwomen and postmen back to work, ordering that "every employee must, when so required, resume without delay, or continue, as the
case may be, the duties of the employee's employment." Paragraph 5(b) charges the union with full responsibility for this, insisting: "The union and each officer and representative of the union must take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees comply with paragraph 3(b)" and "refrain from any conduct that may encourage employees not to comply with paragraph 3(b)." And Paragraph 15 imposes pay settlements for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, at levels that are, according to the CUPWSTTP’s Mr Lemelin, "less than the last offer presented by Canada Post ." Here in the UK, the CWU has roundly condemned the new laws, which our head of international affairs John Baldwin has described as "an astonishing example of the most blatant collusion between an anti-union government and employer.
"The action of Canada Post and the Canadian government is against ILO conventions and the basic human rights of freedom of association and the ability to take strike action," John said, adding: "The CWU salutes the valiant and undefeated women and men of CUPW-STTP." Faced with the legislation, the CUPWSTTP executive was left with no choice but to order a return to work, but, in a defiant statement, union president Mr Lemelin insisted: "Members go back undefeated and with heads held high. "Throughout this struggle, we showed unprecedented strength, solidarity and courage and we will be just as united and strong back at work. "CUPW-STTP has been legislated back to work, but government can never legislate away our solidarity and determination." V
> Turn to page 13 for more on this story
TUC awards four out of seven ‘golds’ to CWU comms
CWU members won high praise from fellow trade unionists with four "Best of" accolades at the annual TUC communications awards last month. Don’t Hang Up on Barrow - a successful fight by the union to save jobs at a closure-threatened call-centre in the Cumbrian town - was considered the outstanding campaign of the past year by judges, who were also impressed by its "shoestring" £400 budget. CWU national officer Sally Bridge said that she was "delighted" that the campaign's success had been recognised. "And the slogan - Don't Hang Up on Barrow - neatly summed up what became a campaign not just by the union, but a call from the whole town, the whole community, the MP John Woodcock, business people and local media," she added. Last year, the CWU also won this category for our Keep the Post Public campaign and an image used for this - an eye-catching manipulation of the classic image of a red pillar box - won this year's "Best Use of a Photo or Illustration Award". Top website went to cwu.org and the electronic version of this publication - E-Voice - also impressed the TUC panel, who judged it the best use of e-communications. With the development of facebook and twitter, regular daily news updates and more varied use of images, the CWU website is being used more and more by CWU members right across the country. And e-Voice, which allows members to watch video footage along with the articles from the magazine and is also growing in popularity. If you want to receive the union's flagship publication in this format in the future, then contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your email details. Delighted CWU head of communications Kevin Slocombe told Voice that "winning an unprecedented four categories at the TUC awards is an endorsement of the union's communications strategy, the weight that we place on communications and the ability of the team. "As a campaigning union, it is extremely rewarding to have won the best campaign for the second year running, but the most important wins were for the website and E-Voice," he added. "All unions face the challenge of making ourselves relevant to a new generation of workers and these two awards indicate that the CWU is meeting this challenge. "Communications can no longer simply be about pieces of paper and CWU has put the modernisation of our communications tools at the forefront of that challenge," he concluded.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Voice: Postal - July/August 2011
Voice: Postal - July/august 2011
General Secretary’s Column
Improving Job Security for All
The Latest Industry News
Child’s Play at Mount Pleasant
Shaping Up to Meet Future Challenges
CWU Salures CUPW-Sttp & TUC Awards
News Updates From the Telecoms Industry
General Strike Now Needed!
Epic Relay for CWUHA
Voice: Postal - July/August 2011