After occupying their company headquarters on Tuesday, the postal workers union says more action is coming, they just haven’t decided what’s next.
About 150 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) occupied the Canada Post Headquarters on Kenmount Road in St. John’s hours before legislation forcing them back to work came into effect.
CUPW Local 126 president Craig Dyer says Tuesday’s action was about sending an immediate message to local management, who told workers to resume their routes at 9:30 a.m., when the legislation only came into effect at 1:30 p.m.
When the note came from management, the workers sat in their lunch room or simply stood around the building to express their displeasure with the back-to-work legislation and orders from management.
“Nobody touched a piece of mail, no one touched any equipment. We just said we’re not happy and we’re not going to work,” said Dyer.
“There was nothing the corporation could do at that time, because we were still within the limits of strike action.”
At 1:30 p.m., work resumed at the Kenmount Road Canada Post location.
Postal workers are concerned about forced overtime during the holiday season. Because of high demand, workers are mandated by their collective agreement to work overtime to make sure all the mail and packages set to go out each day get delivered.
Now that the legislation has passed the federal House of Commons and Senate, the union is evaluating what the best next steps are, Dyer says.
“I think it’s an opportunity to take a deep breath and really focus,” he said.
“We sort of assumed this was coming. People are talking about occupying the minister’s office, protesting on off hours, and there’s talk about defying legislation. Now, that one is way out there because there are severe penalties.”
What’s coming for sure is a campaign against the Newfoundland and Labrador MPs who voted to force CUPW members back to work.
Of the seven Liberal MPs from this province, six voted in favour of the back-to-work legislation. St. John’s East MP Nick Whalen abstained from the vote. Dyer says that may spare Whalen the wrath of the union.
“There’s going to be a campaign come election time to try and get somebody else elected,” he said.
“The initial hope was that we’d get a collective agreement. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
As for whether more occupations, off-hour strikes or more extreme actions are coming, Dyer says much is unclear.
“I know our leadership in Ottawa are discussing the issues. Locally, I can tell you that I will be meeting with the local executive to see where we go,” he said.
“Where does this take us? I can honestly say I don’t know yet.”