Canada passes legislation to end month-long postal strike

Striking Canada Post workers form a picket line outside a mail processing plant in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 23, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

(Reuters) - Canada on Monday passed a back-to-work legislation that will end the postal workers’ strike, which lasted for more than a month, as the holiday season kicked off.

The legislation, tabled by the government as Bill C-89 last week, forces the employees to end a series of rotating strikes from Tuesday noon despite not having reached an agreement with Canada Post [CANPT.UL].

“Back-to-work legislation is a last resort and not something we take lightly. However, having exhausted all other options, it is necessary to protect the public interest and avoid further harm to the Canadian economy,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement.

An extended strike would have weighed on retailers, some of whom turned to couriers like United Parcels Services and FedEx Corp to maintain timely deliveries.

Hajdu said a mediator-arbitrator will now be appointed and the most recent collective agreements will be extended till the parties reach a new agreement.

The employees failed to reach an agreement with the country’s primary postal operator on their demands for increased health benefits and job security.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said it was “exploring all options to fight the back-to-work legislation”.

"Postal workers will continue to defend our right to negotiate a settlement," CUPW national president Mike Palecek said in a statement

Canada Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier