Protesters took over the streets of Victoria Saturday to voice their opposition to the federal government legislating postal workers back to work under threat of heavy fines.
Mail service in Canada resumed Tuesday after the Senate passed back-to-work legislation ordering an end to weeks of rotating strikes by postal workers. If workers defy the legislation, they face significant fines.
“As president of this local, if I encouraged my members to defy the legislation it would be a $50,000 fine for me and a $1,000 fine for every individual that participated,” said Jessica Dempster, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 850.
Critics of the legislation say that it gives Canada Post management an unfair advantage and an opportunity to avoid having to bargain with its largest group of employees.
“We’ve been in negotiation since November 2017 and the first offer we had from them was September of 2018. They put us in this position approaching Christmas and then turned around to the government and said you’re going to have to legislate them back,” Dempster said.
A sign held by the front marchers as they walked down the middle of Government Street and looped back on Douglas Street read, “Stop profiting from our injuries. 30,774 injuries in four years. 14,751 were disabling injuries.”
Statistics Canada reveal that postal contractors have the highest Disabling Injury Incidence Rate and Disabling Injury Frequency Rate of all the federal jurisdiction industry sectors in 2015.
The Delivering Community Power coalition hosted the day of action to “support the postal workers in our communities.”
“We are joining many people across the country who want to oppose this violation of our constitutional right to freely bargain and to strike if need be,” said organizer Zev Roman.
Postal workers and supporters came from all over the Island – Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni – to join Victoria workers at the rally.
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