Government introduces bill to restore mail service

Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:56pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The government introduced legislation on Monday to force an end to a labor disruption at Canada Post and restore national mail service in a matter of days.

The back-to-work bill provides for a winner-takes-all result, with an arbitrator selecting the best final offer of either Canada Post management or the union, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt told reporters after the legislation was introduced.

"That's the danger of asking Parliament to settle your dispute. Your dispute should be settled at the table between the parties who know the issues the best," she added.

"If they don't like the process, they should work together to find their own."

The postal service ground to a halt last Wednesday when Canada Post management locked out the unionized work force, which had mounted a series of rotating strikes since June 3.

Raitt said she had thousands of communications from small businesses, charities and ordinary Canadians urging an end to the disruption.

Canada Post, which is owned by the federal government but operates independently as a for-profit company, is seeking a two-tier package of wages and pensions, maintaining the current structure for existing employees but a cheaper one for new hires.

It has offered raises to existing employees, but has said its survival depends on its being able to pay new employees less so it can compete better with other delivery companies, which have lower cost structures.   Continued...

<p>Mail trucks are seen as they are parked behind a chained up fence after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) were locked out at a Canada Post sorting facility in Toronto, June 15, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>