An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WHEN IT GETS right down to it, unions have only one big stick to get what they want for their members. The strike isn’t just the ultimate weapon, it’s the only one.
All the tough words at the bargaining table amount to nothing if they don’t have the threat of work stoppages at their fingertips.
The current postal disruptions have become, like so many things, a political matter. It was only a few days ago that Justin Trudeau’s government faced demands from the Opposition Conservatives to do something to put an end to CUPW rotating strikes that have hit so many communities across the country, including Kamloops.
When Trudeau came up with back-to-work legislation, the Conservatives criticized that, too, but not as apoplectically as the NDP.
The rationale for the bill — given royal assent Monday evening after the Senate approved it — is that a full-blown walkout would harm the economy and the public, especially seniors. The argument against it is based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, though it takes an expensive lawyer to explain what that has to do with a postal strike.
Forcing workers back on the job is always regarded as a last resort, but should it be any resort at all? There are certain services that just cannot be allowed to be interrupted. Policing, food inspection, firefighting, hospitals, correctional services, border security — those are all things that are necessary for the safety, security and health of the public.
Anything that interferes with these services is a threat to the collective well-being.
Mail delivery is not. It might be an inconvenience and, especially during the Christmas rush, even a major inconvenience. But it’s still only an inconvenience.
We can get along without the mail for a good long time. Legislating an end to inconveniences isn’t the way to do labour bargaining in Canada.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.