Return-to-Work Expenses by Canadian Government Case Study


Collective bargaining is viewed by numerous theorists and labour studies experts to being the most significant aspect of industrial relations emerging from nearly all legislative schemes of labour relations. According to The (2007), the Canadian Supreme Court offered constitutional safety to collective bargaining. However, in the recent past, there have been efforts at reducing the safety scope offered to collective bargaining.

In the United States, where the constitution does not offer any safety to collective bargaining, the concept of right-to-work has ended up reducing the rights of union and workers. Such attempts have also been experienced in the unfolding of events in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, Wisconsin is just one of the states that have been trying to pass legislation that illegalizes collective bargaining from workers union.

In Canada, the recent bill of the Conservative Government (C-6) vis-a-vis the dispute at Canada Post has been seen by many as a similar dismissal of the importance of collective bargaining in Canada. As a result, this paper critically analyses the Conservative Government’s return-to-work bill. In doing this, the paper looks at unions’, employers’ and government’s perspectives and analyses all of them seriously.

CUPW hit against Canada

In accordance with CUPW (Canada Union of Postal Employees) represents Post employees in Canada; advocate for much better working conditions, safety problems and the press for new employees to get better salaries along with pensions. They are the major conditions that resulted in their strike. From producing high profits Apart, Canada Blog post has been increasing the real number of casual employees while reducing the amount of permanent employees. In addition, retirees purchase extended healthcare plan have been increased by Canada Post; the sick leave program that were proposed by the organization to replace the program that was set up was deemed difficult and far significantly inferior.

Furthermore, letter carriers were furthermore being forced to simply accept delivery procedures that in a single way or another compromised their safe practices. The corporation had furthermore introduced two-tiered payment techniques under that your new employees will undoubtedly be receiving 30 % less, reduced advantages, lesser pensions alongside weak job safety (, 2011).

This hit affected people and agencies because consumers and companies stopped getting mails adversely, & most of the amenities were closed lower. The stoppage also resulted in the accumulation of mails from additional nations and unprocessed mails in the Blog post systems, hence affecting conversation and shipping of mails in the united kingdom (Bronski, 2011).

Back-to-work Costs

Because of these effects and insufficient any indication of reaching an contract between Canada Blog post and CUPW, the Conservative Federal government tabled the back-to-function legislation. This happened following the workers union had been locked out by Canada Blog post because of series of strikes which were happening at that time (Bronski, 2011).

Back-to-work costs in Canada is normally read thrice inside your home of Commons and enough time allocated for debate through the second reading is normally only two hours; significantly less than an full hour for the whole committee stage and significantly less than half an hour for third reading account. In addition, every known member is bound to ten minutes of speaking. Nevertheless, there’s neither motion for debate adjournment, nor a movement to adjourn the homely home from sitting can be permitted once the debate is being conducted. The exemption of the rule occurs only once the Crown or Tories presents this type of motion (Deveau, 2011).

In accordance with Lynett, 2011 New Democratic Celebration (NDP) opposed the costs claiming that it had been very unfair to employees. However, their motion had been defeated in the homely home of commons as Liberals and Conservatives voted against it. However, the bill had not been only being opposed by NDP members, but additional senators gave the costs an extremely rough ride also. They questioned peppering witnesses regarding the content of the bill.

Senators like Terry Mercer explained that would be an strike on other unions in public areas sectors. This was as the bill would have adverse implications on those unions. However, those helping the costs indicated that its main objective was to protect the overall economy of the national nation. But at that brief moment, back-to-work legislation was of great significance as there is no way people could possibly be kept looking forward to essential services like mail services. Thus the nationwide government would intervene in this issue as the public interest was on the line.

In accordance with (2011), although CUPW strike had not been affecting Canadian citizens who have been using electronic mails, the national federal government stated that because of the strike, every week by means of tax it had been losing plenty of dollars. The reason being both large organizations and smaller organizations were being hit hard in a variety of ways. From not really receiving business mails Aside, those organizations based on Canada Post to produce a payment or receive transaction were being affected significantly either. As a result, there is a need for the home of Commons to enact this bill to create back mail services which play major roles in stabilizing the country’s economy.

Nevertheless, those opposing the costs reiterated that back-to-work costs was one among the strategies used by the Conservative Federal government in wearing down the Canadian Union of Postal Employees as a champion of solving labour disputes. They also re-read the quotation created by the Primary Minister in 1997 where he mentioned that “ending the monopoly in the postal program will make sure that Canadians are never kept hostage by another postal strike” (, 2011).

In a genuine sense, the back-to-function legislation gave the impressive workers a good lower wage in comparison with what the POSTOFFICE administration had offered them. Furthermore, it finished up limiting an “arbitrator to selecting between your final offers – champion takes all – of both negotiating parties on additional matters” (Deveau, 2011). From these implications Apart, the legislation furthermore provided various economic penalties to union representatives along with individuals who may not comply with the brand new regulation (Corbin, 2011).

The union Vice President stated they were going to follow the brand new legislation and get back to work, not since they wanted to and a way of stopping any excuse which you can use by the federal government against them. Furthermore, the union was extremely annoyed by the brand new legislation claiming that it had been only a way the Conservative Federal government was attempting to intrude into labour disputes. It claimed that with the passing of this bill, there will be a war between your national government, the labour unions and functioning individuals.

Furthermore, it blamed the Canada Blog post for adopting intransigent place after passage of back-to-work legislation. Nevertheless, it promised a continual battle for “safe work, decent pensions and jobs, regardless of this punitive and unjust costs. Fortunately, the federal government can’t legislate away our determination to fight for the rights” (, 2011).


When all factors are placed under consideration, the Conservative Federal government of Canada is making use of back-to-work legislation as a means of interfering with collective bargaining procedures in the united kingdom. This is because, when compared to a year for less, the national federal government has didn’t settle labour disputes through collective bargaining with labour unions; instead, it’s been imposing back-to-work legislation. This could be exemplified by the truth that the conservative federal government was imposing back-to-function legislation to Canada employees who were striking because of poor working circumstances and lower salary prices.

Nevertheless, the union and the company found an agreement prior to the legislation had been enacted (Misener, 2011). Nonetheless, year in the same, the Conservative Federal government of Canada used exactly the same legislation to power Postal workers to return to work. Therefore that the Conservative Federal government can be entrenching labour union privileges really.

Although national government may not have the pinch of forcing employees to work now, in future, the behave could have a complete large amount of implications, on bargaining power particularly. The reason being most unions in potential future could have a mentality they will be forced to work. They’ll not be bargaining for much better terms of employment Therefore. In accordance with professor Hebdon, you can find other methods Harper’s government may have used to gain longterm gains (Rosenfeld, 2011). Nevertheless, the back-to-work costs attains short-term gains, however the longterm effects on bargaining will be much devastating. According to among the CUPW vice president:

[We’re likely to take an intense stance in the arbitration procedure, even though it’s an extremely poor solution to settle problems and we’ll be approaching for bargaining within the next four decades and we’re likely to plan that round… our people are determined to maintain the fight] (Walkom, 2011).

In my own view, I start to see the conservative Federal government playing political video games with the matter. There were various governments in Canada which were managing labour union strikes in smarter methods. This could be traced after World Battle II. As a matter of fact, federal government officials like ministers ought to be more capable on such matters. It is because, when the national authorities intervenes through the back-to-work bill, the ability of employees union to negotiate adversely is normally eliminated or

In addition, this is just a obvious indication that the conservative authorities of Canada intents to undertake tough actions on labour unions. It is very difficult to understand how the government can come up with a bill which gives an offer that is less than what the employer had already offered. It would have been understandable if the bill had offered either the same rate or even at least higher than what the employer had offered.

The implication of these activities is that in future, when an employer offers any deal, regardless of its scale (smaller or bigger), the union should accept. This is because in case the negotiations end up being fruitless, the Conservative Government of Canada will intervene, and there will be no mercy on the union side. It is because the national authorities might provide a rate that’ll be lower from what the company had offered.

However, the only real concrete reason leading to this type of bill is once the country’s economy reaches stake, and the general public is really suffering due to the labour dispute (Corbin, 2011). Though in those days the Canadian open public was suffering since it was not able to send or get mails along with air solutions, I don’t believe if the country’s overall economy was at risk. It is because the strike had not been affecting electronic mails. So individuals might use electronic mails still. However, most business activities found a standstill in lots of organizations, for instance, huge amount of money cannot be invoiced, or some organizations that have been not employing electronic mails weren’t receiving cheques. Thus this is a situation calling for an emergency.

In addition, it has been argued by scholars that ‘removing workers’ right to strike also removes the leverage the unions have in the negotiations by eliminating any financial penalties for the company” (Kochan, 1980). The democratic right of striking and the issue of threatening to go on strike has been producing magic settlements in most cases. However, the Conservative Government and Canada Post management seem not to learn from history lessons that have been taking place in other parts of the world.

The process of forcing postal and other workers to work is unjust and unfair to workers. This is because, it is their democratic right to go on strike, but using back-to-work legislation denies them such democratic right (Lynett, 2011).

The politics surrounding back-to-work bills in Canada is very complicated. It is genuine that the Conservative Authorities does not have any mercy on unions and is particularly true that back-to-function legislation ordering postal employees to return to work can be biased. However, this example is not unique during the past history of Canada. It really is clear that “Throughout their times in government, neither the Liberals nor the brand new Democrats have already been loath to utilize the legislative hammer against striking or locked-out workers” (Kochan, 1980). Through the Liberal’s period, the two-week postal hit was ended by authorities intervention.

Moreover, like what the Conservative Authorities did just, they also offered a lesser rate when compared with what Canada Blog post had offered. At this right time, the Conservative after that called Reform celebration was the main one complaining that regulations was unjust and had not been considering the requirements and complains of employees. However, the New Democrats are usually attacking the Conservative authorities for imposing back-to-work rule to postal employees by airing important points.

However, in 1997 New Democrats were willing to accelerate enactment of the back-to-work bill through the House of Commons. This was particularly when the strike of grain handlers was threatening western farmers’ interests. In addition, during 1997 postal workers’ strike, the New Democratic Party supported back-to-work legislation to end the strike. That bill was just similar to this being opposed by the same party. This is because the bill also imposed similar wage settlements that the Conservative Government was imposing. However, this time around New Democrats are calling it unfair to workers.

According to Canada history, different premiers have used similar legislation to settle labour disputes. For instance, “In the 1970s and early ’80s, Saskatchewan premier Allan Blakeney enacted an end to labour disputes involving power workers, dairy workers and non-medical hospital personnel” (Peirce & Bentham, 2006). In addition, when New Democrat was in power in the early 1990s, the rights of unions representing about one million public service employees were threatened by the government; the government enacted legislation that ended up changing their contracts in Ontario. It is the same for Rae, the Federal Liberal leader who was weighing the options of delaying the back-to-work bill presented by the Conservative Government (Walkom, 2011).

Nevertheless, the most inquisitive feature concerning the approach that was used by the Conservative Government is not about the decision of enacting a bill that led to an end the postal dispute that lasted for 18 days. This is because both the New Democrats and the Liberals did the same when they were in power, “most recently in 1975, 1978, 1981, 1987 (twice) and 1997” (Walkom, 2011). Neither is it the speed with which the government introduced the bill.

This is because, in 1997, the Conservative Government, under Brian Mulroney, proposed the same legislation to end the Postal workers’ strike just after nine days of the strike. In addition, in 1997 the government intervened just after 14 days of the strike. But in a real sense, the way in which the Conservative Government reacted to the Canada strike. This is because the government intervened just after hours (Peirce & Bentham, 2006).

In a real sense, in Canada, there are other airlines operating, apart from having other means of travelling. This implies that the sector is not essential to growth of the country’s economy, apart from bringing fewer side effects to the Canadian community. This means that there was no public demand to end the strike but the government ended up reacting just after a few hours. Nonetheless, the union (Canadian Auto Workers) strike was failing.

Thus why should the government act on such an issue as if it was an issue calling for emergency? As a result, in one way or the other by enacting back-to-work Bill, the government was helping Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) by saving the union from shame. Thus, there are chances that the Conservative Government recognizes the power and the rights of labour unions.

Concerning CUPW strike, there were a lot of public demands for the government and the Canada Post management to end the strike. For instance, the Canadian mail users’ association was calling the government and Canada post to settle the labour dispute for the services to resume. In addition, the economy of the country was being threatened, as million of dollars were being lost. Putting all these factors in consideration I see that the Conservative Government even took more time to act to a situation that required rapid reaction. However, what I disagree with the Conservative Government is the issue of giving salary rates that were lower than what the employer had offered to the union.

On the other hand, by looking at the reasons of Canada Union of Postal Workers’ (CUPW) strike, I can say that they are genuine reasons. According to Misener, 2011they are fighting for poor working conditions, pensions as well as salary rates. These are some of the concerns that are affecting most Canadians in one way or the other in their respective workplaces. Though there are scholars like Kaufman & Morris, 1993 and Dunlop, 1958 who have argued that representation of employees is a very critical issue compared to representation through unions. This is because most of these unions represent their own opinions other than representing opinions of their members.

But in the case of CUPW, the facts presented were affecting its members. As a result, there is no way one can say CUPW was representing their own interests. However, Canada Post management which is their employer took advantage of what the government was doing in other sectors to set low rates to ensure that the agreement is not reached so that the government can intervene by enacting back-to-work bill. Due to the fact that the government was favouring employers in previous cases, they were having higher chances of being favoured hence, emerging as winners.


In conclusion, I would like to state that both the government, Canada Post and the Workers Union tried their best to end the strike. However, it is not the responsibility of the government to intervene labour in disputes, unless the issue is affecting the country’s economy or due to public demand. In this case, though there was public demand and the economy was being affected though not to a large extend, the government’s intervention was of great help.

However the government should not have offer a lower salary rate compared to what the employer has offered. In addition, the frequency of back-to-work bills should not be as high as it is in Canada. In less than a month, two bills were brought up this is not right and the government should start looking for better methods of settling labour
disputes. In addition, the employer should play his / her role right to prevent work stoppages that usually affects the country’s economy.

Lastly, workers don’t join unions for nothing they usually incur lots of expenses to ensure that their unions are representing them nicely and for that matter unions should be given a chance to represent their members efficiently, in fact it brings in the issue of check and balances.


Bronski, M. (2011). Canada Write-up: Back To Work Expenses Approved By Senate, Becomes Regulation; Mail Should Resume Tuesday . The Canadian Press . Web. (2011). Conservatives table Canada Post back-to-work expenses . CBC Information . Web. (2011). Canada Posting promises mail shipping Tuesday . CBC Information . Web.

Corbin, K. (2011). Postal Provider to Resume in Canada as Back-to-Work Laws Passes . Web.

Deveau, S. (2011). Tories to speed Surroundings Canada back-to-work costs through Home . Web.

Dunlop, J. (1958). Industrial Relations Techniques . NY: Holt-Dryden.

Kaufman, B. & Morris, K. (1993). Worker Representation: Alternatives and Upcoming Instructions. Madison, WI: Industrial Relations Analysis Association.

Kochan, A new. (1980). Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations: From Theory to Plan to apply. Homewood, IL: Irwin.

Lynett, A new. (2011). Postal union launches court problem to eliminate back-to-function legislation . Web.

Misener, K. (2011). Air Canada customer support staff returns to function. The Canadian Push . Web.

Peirce, J. & Bentham, J. (2006). Canadian Industrial Relations . Ontario: Pearson Prentice Hall. (2011). Associates of the Canadian Union of Postal Employees have started rotating strikes against Canada Posting . Web.

Rosenfeld, H. (2011). Making Feeling of the Government Election in Canada . Web. (2007). Archive for Entries on Health Providers. Web. (2011). Postal back-to-work costs becomes law; tuesday mail could resume. The Canadian Press . Web.

Walkom, T. (2011). Everyone wins with back-to-work costs, except Canada Post employees . Web.

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