CCLA Deeply Concerned by Proposed Back-to-Work Legislation

Lisa Raitt

Letter to Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt from the CCLA, 16 June 2011

TORONTO, June 23, 2011 - The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is deeply concerned about the government's actions in moving forward with back-to-work legislation in relation to the ongoing dispute between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.  The legislation, introduced on Monday, June 20, constitutes a substantial interference in the collective bargaining process and risks sending a message to management that negotiation with unions is unnecessary.

The CCLA wrote to Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt on June 16, 2011, when news of the plan to legislate an end to the dispute surfaced.  The CCLA's letter states in part: "...the proposed back-to-work legislation will significantly impede the associational rights of workers under the Charter, and interfere with their ability to engage in effective collective bargaining.  Government intervention in disputes between management and labour should be both rare and limited."  Unfortunately, the proposed bill takes an unusually interventionist approach.  While back-to-work legislation often sets out a process for the parties to come to an agreement, the legislation in this case goes much further and imposes specific wage increases for the duration of the new collective agreement.  The increases in this case are lower than what Canada Post last offered, demonstrating a high level of government interference.  In addition, the legislation requires an arbitrator (picked by the Minister of Labour) to select between the offers put forward by Canada Post and the Union, rather than trying to find a compromise between the two.
"This establishes a system where there will be a winner and a loser, rather than encouraging attempts to find common ground.  We continue to urge the government to reconsider its approach and allow the parties to the dispute an opportunity to reach a resolution," CCLA's Cara Zwibel said.
Dowload a complete PDF copy of the CCLA's letter to the Minister of Labour here.