Senators will resume a special sitting Monday to examine a back-to-work bill for Canada Post employees. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Senators to resume debate on postal legislation after taking a day to reflect

The bill could receive royal assent and become law a short time later, which would force striking postal workers back to work by noon on Tuesday.

Senators are to resume a special sitting today to examine a back-to-work bill that would force an end to rotating strikes at Canada Post as the walkouts enter their sixth week.

Bill C-89 was debated in the upper chamber on Saturday after the Liberal government fast-tracked the legislation through the House of Commons.

But despite an initial plan to continue debate — and possibly hold a vote — on Sunday, senators chose instead to give themselves an extra day to digest hours of witness testimony on the labour dispute.

A Senate official says final debate on the legislation is expected to begin by mid-afternoon (2 p.m. ET), likely followed by an early evening vote.

The bill could receive royal assent and become law a short time later, which would force striking postal workers back to work by noon on Tuesday.

However, the legislation could be delayed by a number of factors, such as amendments.

Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said their negotiators remained at the bargaining table Sunday, hoping to reach contract agreements in advance of the bill’s passage.

Negotiations have been underway for nearly a year, but the dispute escalated more recently when CUPW members launched rotating strikes Oct. 22.

Those walkouts have led to backlogs of mail and parcel deliveries at the Crown corporation’s main sorting plants in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Picket lines were up Sunday at Canada Post facilities in northern Ontario, as well as in parts of British Columbia.

Read more: Canada Post responds to B.C. mail carrier’s claims of questionable tactics during strike

Read more: Liberals push Canada Post bill to Friday-night votes

CUPW vowed to continue the walkouts Monday to back its contract demands.

The union wants better pay and job security, guaranteed hours for its 8,000 rural and suburban carriers, and equality for those workers with the corporation’s 42,000 urban employees.

CUPW also wants Canada Post to adopt rules that it says would cut down on workplace injuries — an issue the union has said is now at a “crisis” level.

The union’s national president has called the back-to-work bill a slap in the faces of Canada Post employees and accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of turning his back on postal workers.

“We condemn this hypocritical act by a government that promised to defend workers’ rights, claimed to stand for equality for women, and claimed to stand for expanding and defending the middle class,” Mike Palecek said in a weekend statement on the union’s website.

“It’s unacceptable for any government to violate workers’ charter rights.”

Palecek said the union would decide this week how to fight the back-to-work bill once it becomes law, adding “all options” were on the table.

The former Conservative government forced an end to a lockout of postal workers during a 2011 dispute by enacting back-to-work legislation, which was later declared by a court to be unconstitutional.

But the Liberal government’s bill is “different,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said shortly after the legislation was tabled in the Commons, in that it does not impose immediate outcomes affecting postal contracts.

The legislation would give a mediator-arbitrator appointed by the government 90 days to try and reach contract settlements. Failing that, a settlement could be imposed either through a decision from the arbitrator or by choosing from one of the final proposals put forward by Canada Post or CUPW.

Once enacted, Bill C-89 would impose fines of between $1,000 and $50,000 per day on anyone found in contravention of the Act, and up to $100,000 per day against Canada Post or the union if they are found guilty of violating its terms.

Canada Post said it expected to make about 30,000 deliveries of parcels to Canadians over the past two days — a far cry from the 500,000 deliveries that a company spokesman said was normal for a late-November weekend.

“Weekend deliveries occur during the holidays to keep pace and balance the workload through the week,” said Jon Hamilton.

“In 2017 we delivered 3.6 million parcels on holiday weekends.”

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vehicle accident on Sumas and South Fraser Way intersection

Southbound traffic on Sumas Way slow as the right lane is blocked

New wine patios clear hurdle in Abbotsford

Ripples Winery and Maan Farms Estate Winery each hope to create patios for drinkers

Abbotsford police searching for missing local man

David Cole’s family have not heard from him since early September

Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association gives an assist to youth mental health

AMHA raises nearly $3,000 after four recent equipment swap and sales

Lost Labradoodle found and reunited with family in Abbotsford

Four-year-old Mordy went missing on Aug. 26 in Princeton

VIDEO: Prosecutors to consider charges in human-caused 2017 B.C. wildfire

RCMP forwards results of its investigation into Elephant Hill fire to Crown counsel

Petition to rename park after teen overdose victim to get hearing

With 3,500 signatures so far, organizer is thinking of closing down online campaign

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Most Read