In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, CCU President Kelly Johnson condemns the federal Liberal Government for enacting undemocratic, anti-worker, back-to-work legislation that will create further precedent for employers to ignore fair demands by workers both inside and outside unions, and grant employers more incentive to bargain in bad faith.
December 4, 2018
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Re: Back to Work Legislation (Bill C-89)
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
On behalf of the Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU), the largest affiliation of independent unions in the country, I am writing to you to state my opposition to your government’s passing of Bill C-89, which forces postal workers back to work and destroys free collective bargaining for tens of thousands of workers throughout the country.
In February 2018, I wrote another letter to you, congratulating you and your government for ratifying International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 98, which commits governments around the world – including that of Canada – to respect the values of workers’ rights and collective bargaining.
I am now regretting writing that letter to you, since instead of respecting the rights of working people and the collective bargaining process, you and your government have chosen to overturn those rights and freedoms that workers in Canada have had for decades, contravening the very ILO convention you were so proud of adopting just over a year ago.
As I wrote in that letter: “It’s been exceptionally clear to legal experts throughout Canada that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees free and fair collective bargaining through the right of association.”
And as the ILO specifically states: Convention 98 “requires Member States to ensure that workers enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination and to ensure protection of workers’ organizations, and of employers’ organizations against any acts of interference by the other. These represent the necessary conditions to ensure the full and meaningful collective bargaining which the Convention calls on Governments to promote.”
Your Bill C-89 does the exact opposite of this. Instead, it will only build a further precedent for employers to ignore fair demands by workers both inside and outside unions, and grant employers more incentive to bargain in bad faith.
And this comes at a time when Canada Post, during the past two decades, has enjoyed record profits with just a few years of minimal losses.
As we speak, Canada Post facilities throughout the country are being blockaded in dozens of communities by thousands of workers both inside and outside the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). And as union president Mike Palecek correctly says: this struggle is about the right to free collective bargaining and impacts every worker in this country. This includes the 20,000 members of my union association, the CCU.
It’s time that workers’ rights and collective bargaining are protected in this country. It’s time for Canada Post to get back to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with the workers of CUPW.
President, Confederation of Canadian Unions