One significant example is the family leave campaign, which is being examined as part of a current Workers’ History Museum project. When CUPW included a demand for fully paid maternity leave in its 1977 bargaining proposals, the union ended up on strike, the government passed back to work legislation and CUPW President Jean-Claude Parrot was jailed. But the union persevered and in 1981, under Parrot’s leadership, the union became the first in the federal public sector to win paid maternity leave. Other employers and unions took notice and the fight for paid family leave spread throughout the country.
Fast-forward to the most recent negotiations between CUPW and their employer.
Canada Post offered current workers improved wages and the option of keeping their benefits and pensions. All they needed to do in return was agree to a lower starting salary, reduced benefits, and a defined contribution pension for future employees of Canada Post. Improved wages was one thing, but selling out the future generations of workers was not an option for CUPW. They started rotating strikes to get their message across without inconveniencing large numbers of the public. These actions had barely started when Canada Post shut down postal service completely with a nation-wide lockout.
The current conservative government forced through back to work legislation while imposing a wage settlement that was lower than the employer’s last offer, claiming to be supporting the interests of Canadians by restoring postal service. But when you remember that CUPW was locked out by their employer, a crown corporation, and then forced back to work by the federal government, the situation starts to look grim. The federal government, who should be lauding a group for fighting for the rights of future generations of Canadians, instead rewarded them with a wage decrease.
Does this seem odd to anyone?
For more information about the CUPW and the recient postal workers lockout please see Aalya Ahmad and Geoff Bickerton's well -written analysis at:
It’s worth a read.