KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Today at noon some 15 labour activists briefly occupied the office of Andy Fillmore, the Liberal member of parliament for Halifax, to protest the Canada Post back-to-work legislation, while others rallied outside.
The occupation was part of a Canada-wide day(s) of action, today and tomorrow.
Fillmore, who was in the office, talked with the occupiers for some 40 minutes.
Members of CUPW, CUPE, PSAC and other unions, as well as the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, Solidarity Halifax and the Council of Canadians all took part in the protest.
Fillmore, who said that he had read the legislation before he voted for it, seemed surprised when informed that Bill C-89 gives power to an arbitrator to impose a collective agreement on the workers when the parties fail to come to an arbitrator-facilitated agreement.
Fillmore told the workers that he voted in favour of the legislation because many people contacted him concerned about impact of the strike on their small businesses.
But for the union activists the sanctity of the right to strike, guaranteed in the Charter, is not something that can be surrendered just because it creates some inconvenience.
An inconvenience that CUPW believes was greatly exaggerated by Canada Post when it told the public that timely delivery of Christmas parcels could no longer be guaranteed.
How come that tremendous backlog disappeared as if by magic, and we are now back to normal, postal workers asked Fillmore.
And how could that backlog grow so large while rotating strikes kept labour interruptions relatively minor? During the six weeks of Canada-wide rotating strikes Halifax for example was only down three days.
Meanwhile, gender equality, work-life balance, full time jobs, and workplace safety, vitally important issues for the postal workers, were relegated to imposed arbitration rather than collective bargaining, where it belongs.
Collective bargaining began in November 2017, but Canada Post has been slow to respond throughout, and has refused to budge on major issues, raising suspicions that it was merely biding its time until the government stepped in to end the strike.
See also: What a Canada Post strike is all about