Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Documents Give Behind-the-Scenes Look at the 2011 Canada Post Labour Lockout

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Documents Give Behind-the-Scenes Look at the 2011 Canada Post Labour Lockout

Article excerpt

Remember the last Canada Post labour lockout?

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OTTAWA - It was five years ago that Canada Post and its largest union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, were last involved in contract negotiations that stalled, leading to a lockout that ended when the Conservative government legislated a return to work.

Thousands of pages of documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act give a behind-the-scenes look inside the government as the labour dispute deepened. Here are five things gleaned from all those pages:

1) The federal government calculated the work stoppage in 2011 would cost the economy between $2.4 million and $9.7 million per day, less than during the previous labour disruption of 1997. Why? More people were using email, texting, Internet banking and online services to pay bills, negating the need to use Canada Post. As for online shoppers who received parcels in the mail: "There are alternative carriers such as Purolator, UPS, FedEx and others that Canadians can use, so the impact of a Canada Post strike may not be significant for Internet commerce."

2) Federal officials kept track of every message that postal workers sent to then labour minister Lisa Raitt, listing them all in a chart that included names, dates, province and city, and the key message the worker wanted to send. One email on June 10 said 129 employees had asked for a vote on final offers, 37 messages came from the public and 42 from businesses asking for government intervention through back-to-work legislation or arbitration, 13 messages backed the union's position in the talks and one asked for the government to let the workers go on strike.

3) Businesses big and small asked the government to get involved. While the names and companies have been blacked out from the documents, one of the largest corporate users of Canada Post said a work stoppage would "place onerous burdens on corporations" to meet regulatory obligations. …

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