Volume 91, Issue 49

Tuesday, November 25, 1997



Posties picket as legislation looms

James Pugsley/Gazette
SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE SIGNS. Postal employees demonstrate at a processing plant on Highbury Avenue yesterday.

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

Shouts for more negotiation could be heard across Canada yesterday as postal workers rallied against legislation which could force them back to work before a collective agreement can be made.

In London, over 150 picketers converged at the Highbury Avenue processing plant yesterday morning in protest of a statement made by Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano, who confirmed the federal government may table back-to-work legislation for picketers.

Jim Morris, leader of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 566 in London, said the suggestion has effectively sabotaged negotiations since there is now no incentive for the employers to come back to the table for more discussion.

This type of legislation is generally introduced because of problems on the picket lines, Morris said, while urging members to demand the government withdraw this legislation.

"If there is no peace for postal workers, there will be no peace in the post office."

An offer by the Minister of Labour Lawrence MacCaulay for a special mediator was accepted by both sides last night as talks were stalled in light of province-wide rallies. "It is often difficult to negotiate when there is mistrust at the table," said CUPW communications specialist Chris Lawson.

Meetings between the two were held later the same evening in Hull, Quebec, where the union is hoping the pressure of the continuing strike will make it possible for an open and honest discussion, Lawson said. The speed with which both parties were willing to meet shows everyone wants this to go quickly, he added.

Canada Post spokesperson Ida Irwin refused to comment on the legislation and said they are prepared to participate in the governments' last effort to help both sides come to an agreement they hope will come quickly.

"We want to get our employees back to work as quickly as possible because it is Christmas for them as well," Irwin added.

Sightings of president and chief executive office for Canada Post, George Clairmont, at the Ottawa rally passing out donuts and coffee was seen by London ralliers as suspect. "Postal workers will not be bought off with coffee and donuts," said regional union representative for Southwestern Ontario Leon Bouvier.

Jean-Maurice Filion, a spokesperson for Canada Post, said Clairmont only wanted to show he cared and intended to go out and meet the people and this was shown by the fact he did not alert the media or anyone else.

The latest published wage reports by the union proposed an increase of 52 cents per hour on August 1997 and 55 cents per hour on August 1998 for employees. Canada Post has offered the union an increase of one and a half per cent for August 1997, one and three quarter per cent for August 1998 and two per cent on August 1999.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997