TORONTO, Oct. 5, 2015 /CNW/ - High-profile labour leaders gathered today at the Ontario Superior Court to mark the start of hearings on the postal workers' constitutional challenge to being legislated back to work by the majority Conservative government in 2011.
Prior to postal workers being forced back, Canada Post had imposed a two-week nationwide lockout on its employees. At the time, opposition parties accused the Conservative government of giving Canada Post management an unfair advantage over the workers by interfering with free collective bargaining.
Bill C-6, introduced by Lisa Raitt on June 20th, 2011, imposed punitive conditions on the locked-out postal workers, including wages that were lower than those offered at the bargaining table and heavy fines for not obeying the legislation. Postal workers also lost their sick leave and were forced to accept a lower starting rate for newer hires.
Paul Cavalluzzo, renowned constitutional lawyer, is arguing the case on behalf of the union.
"All Canadians should be outraged that the Conservatives attacked fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian constitution," said Mike Palecek, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. "These freedoms include the freedom of association and the ability to come together as workers to defend our interests against powerful corporations. We cannot say we live in a free country when our constitutional rights can be arbitrarily taken away."
Palecek also noted that the government's back-to-work legislation refutes the idea that the government is "arms-length" from the postal service.
"We are confident that justice will prevail and that the court will recognize the back-to-work legislation for what it was: interference with the free collective bargaining rights of working people everywhere," said Palecek.
SOURCE Canadian Union of Postal Workers
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