On Monday June 20, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-6: An Act to Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services (the “Bill”). The Bill is “Back to Work” legislation for Canada Post and Labour Minister Lisa Raitt expects it to be passed early next week, restoring mail delivery for Canadians.
There are a couple of interesting and unique features included in the Bill. To start with, it provides for “Final Offer Selection” arbitration. Final Offer Selection is a process whereby each party makes a proposal on each outstanding issue and the Arbitrator must choose from the proposals on an issue by issue basis. The Arbitrator cannot select middle ground between the proposals or create a compromise. “Interest arbitrations” are usually by way of a traditional arbitration model where the final compromise is in the hands of the Arbitrator, making this an unusual choice of process by the Federal Government.
Another important aspect of the Bill is that it dictates the wage increases that will be awarded to members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). Bill C-6 calls for a wage increase of 1.75 per cent in the first year of the collective agreement, followed by increases of 1.5 per cent in the second year, and 2 per cent in each of the final two years. Incorporating wage rates into legislation is extremely rare and is likely something that CUPW will object to. However, this is not unheard of. In 1997 the Federal Government ordered postal workers back to work after a two-week strike and imposed a wage settlement that was less than Canada Post’s last offer.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to Bill C-6 as a “fair settlement for Canada Post workers.” The New Democrats have signalled their intention to vote against the back-to-work bill, though they will be unable to stop the majority Conservatives from passing the legislation.