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Local postal workers occupy plant before end of strike

Mail may be moving again, but local Canada Post employees say their fight is not over yet. Federal back-to-work legislation officially ended the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ rotating strikes, and members in Grande Prairie were back on the job as of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

For the four hours prior, Local 744 occupied the main processing plant in Grande Prairie. Vice-President Connor Dowd-Taylor says it was their way of participating before their legal right to strike ended.

“The mail and things were not sorted and we just had a work stoppage for four hours and made everybody gather in one area of the plant. At 10 a.m. we were back on the work floor.”

The rotating strikes lasted 37 days, and CUPW President Mike Palecek said Tuesday morning that members should wait for further instructions on how the union will be moving towards a campaign of “mobilizations, demonstrations and non-violent civil disobedience.” Palecek calls Bill C-89 approved by senators Monday night unconstitutional, an opinion Dowd-Taylor shares.

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“A similar type of legislation was passed back in 2011 that was later ruled unconstitutional by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice because it violated our right to freedom of expression and freedom of association. I’m not quite sure how this one got past the Senate.”

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu insists this legislation is different than the one seven years ago, since it mandates that an independent mediator-arbitrator reach a contract settlement in 90 days.

Before strike action began on October 22nd, Canada Post and the workers union had spent 10 months unsuccessfully negotiating new collective agreements. On top of better pay and job security, Dowd-Taylor says health and safety is a priority.

“We’ve had quite a high disabling injury rate, especially here in Grande Prairie. We’ve got terrible winter weather; it’s quite difficult to deliver in the winter here and it shows in our injuries.”

Before Tuesday’s occupation, the rotating strike came to Grande Prairie on November 2nd.

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