Canada set to force postal workers back to work

Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:48pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian members of Parliament will sit continuously, even overnight, until the House of Commons passes a law to force postal workers back to work and restore mail service, the Conservative government said on Thursday.

Because the government has a majority in the House, the legislation is certain to pass. The only question is how many hours -- or perhaps days -- opposition parties will continue to debate it before the bill goes through.

Postal employees started rotating strikes on June 3 to back contract demands and were locked out on June 15 by Canada Post, a government-owned corporation, which said the strikes halved mail volumes and were costing it too much money.

The two sides had continued negotiating but management announced on Thursday morning that talks had broken off.

The dispute has not caused the same public disturbance that postal strikes did before the advent of email and the Internet, but the government said it has prompted enough complaints from small businesses that it had to act.

The House had been scheduled to adjourn for the summer on Thursday but New Democrat leader Jack Layton said he was prepared to force the House to sit into Friday if necessary, and possibly beyond, to try to press for changes in the bill.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said she would be prepared to look at any proposed amendments but the House would stick at it till the legislation gets through.

"I just want to make it clear that regardless of filibuster, regardless of how many people are going to speak, you know, we're going to sit here until the legislation is passed. It is important for small business and for the economy to get the mail going again and that's our final say on the matter," she told reporters outside the House.   Continued...

<p>A Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) member sits in front of a Canada Post sorting facility in Toronto, June 15, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>