Canada Post workers are gathering in the heart of Toronto’s downtown to rally against the federal government’s attempt to force them to go back to work if a contract agreement can’t be struck.
John Cartwright, the president of Toronto and York region labour council, said he expects hundreds to gather at the rally Wednesday morning at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets in front of Canada Post’s legal offices.
In addition to postal workers, workers from every sector of the economy are expected to attend the rush-hour rally at one of the busiest corners in the city.
Those people, Cartwright said, are standing up for the next generation of Canadian workers who deserve the same wages and benefits his generation received. As of about 9:30 a.m., more than 100 workers had assembled at Yonge and Dundas, carrying placards emblazoned with slogans like “negotiate not legislate.”
Some of those who gathered said they hoped a negotiated settlement could be reached instead of Ottawa intervening.
The rally comes two days after the Conservative government in Ottawa tabled back-to-work legislation. Parliament spent much of the day Tuesday debating the legislation, which would force workers to go back to work should the union, CUPW, and management fail to reach a deal on a new contract.
The government hopes to vote on the legislation Thursday.
Canada Post locked out workers on June 14, after 12 days of rotating strikes launched by the union. The two sides met for talks on Tuesday
The Crown corporation has said the main sticking point in the dispute is the union’s demand for staffing levels beyond the capability of Canada Post, adding that wages were not the key disagreement.
CUPW, the union representing the thousands of striking workers, has been emphasizing working conditions and safety issues, as well as decrying the corporation’s push to have new employees receive substantially inferior wages and pensions. CUPW also says Canada Post turned a profit in each of the last 16 years
With files from CBC’s Kimberly Gale