Accusation of "Americanizing" arises during postal dispute

Organized labour is accusing the Harper government of "Americanizing" collective bargaining.

The accusation came Tuesday during a noon hour rally outside Canada Post's downtown plant in Edmonton. It saw a couple hundred people from across the union spectrum support locked out postal workers. The unions are upset at what they describe as "heavy-handedness" in negotiations.

What's got them going is the government's back-to-work legislation which imposes lower wages than Canada Post's last offer when the rotating strikes began.

"The arbitrator that's going to be appointed is going to be looking at the final offer of Canada Post, the final offer of the union (and) he or she will pick one, and that's what's going to make up the collective agreement for the next four years," said Bev Ray, the Edmonton local president for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), whose members have been locked out since last Thursday.

Gil McGowan with the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says, to have a wage roll back in legislation language is unprecedented.

"In this case, the government, I would argue," he said, "this is an American style approach."

Ray says, with the legislation now tabled for a couple of days, the hope is in the interim, talks will resume.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says the settlement is in line with other federal unions.

iNews880am, Tues Jun 21 2011

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