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How can Canada Post Respond to Rotating Strikes?

June 3 2011

The Postal Workers Union began a series of “rotating strikes” today, targeting Winnipeg first. Apparently Hamilton is next.

The reason that the union can engage in these rotating strikes is that the union is in a legal strike position. The workers could walk off the job completely, from coast to coast, if they so chose. But the union has elected not to do that yet. The benefit of a rotating strike to the union and workers is that they send a message and put

some pressure on the employer, buy the workers continue to get all or most of their pay.

Does the employer have to tolerate rotating strikes?

The answer is no. An employer has options too, since it also is in a legal lockout position. This means the employer may decide to lockout the workers altogether, in which case the employees would lose their wages. Or the employer could respond in kind by initiating rotating lockouts–locking out the workers for a few days here and there, at some or all locations. That is how Canada Post responded back in the 1990s when postal workers engaged in a work to rule campaign when they were in a legal strike position. The labour board ruled that the employer was engaging in lawful rotating defensive lockout (CUPW v. Canada Post (1992) 16 Can. L.R.B.R. (2d) 290.

The employer may also unilaterally change the conditions of employment of the bargaining unit employees, since the collective agreement is expired and labour boards and courts have ruled that labour law legislation does not require the union’s consent to changes in contract terms during a strike/lockout period. See the Supreme Court of Canada decision in<ahref=””> Paccar of Canada. and the more recent OLRB decision in Neenah Paper of Canada.

If you were running Canada Post, how would you respond to the rotating strike?




4 Responses to How can Canada Post Respond to Rotating Strikes?

  1. Lew Reply

    June 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    This is how Canada Post responded to the strike up to now. On tuesday may 31st, right after the 72-hours notice of a possible strike, they stopped paying for sick days, workers in leave for work accident and cancelled every insurances workers had (hospital, drugs, eye coverage and dentist

    On friday june 3rd they stopped paying vacations days and forced back to work those who were in vacation leave.

  2. Machado Reply

    June 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    It seems to me that employees who are on rotating strikes, basically want their cake and eat it too. They want to make a difference to their contract and put pressure on the employer by using rotating strikes, but maintain a full wage to support there family. This method puts all the pressure on the employer to bargain and make changes. There is no reciprocal pressure that will force employees to make a deal. This would understandably make employers use rotating lockouts or other methods to impose pressure.

    Canada Post is now resorting to hurting families in order to make its point. As much as an employer wants to apply pressure, I don’t think that the entire family should be affected. Especially with those who have children that require medication. I can see so many more future problems arising from this.

    Since there was no collective agreement in force, aren’t all wage rates put back down to minimum wage? If Canada Post didn’t want to use rotating lockouts, reduce the pay rates, where employees can still live, but can’t afford the extras in life rather than eliminating benefits.

  3. curious Reply

    August 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    2 questions; does grievance arbitration continue during a lockout and what if I was given a termination notice during the lockout, it that unfair labour practice?

  4. Zsabrina Fralick Reply

    October 29, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    This is ridiculous it’s not fair that we now get no mail at a all and only specific areas are being targeted .I use Canada post I pay them money by ordering endless things from eBay and amazon ,they don’t like how they’re being treated by their employers but yet the customers suffer that’s real fair to a loyal paying customer

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