Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for clearing that up for me.
We are here to discuss the unfair back-to-work legislation. The Canada Post Corporation decided to lock the doors and not allow in the 48,000 postal workers who want to work.
To defend the rights of all workers, I stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers in the CUPW who want to work but cannot, with my colleagues here in this caucus, and with thousands of members of my community and other Canadian communities.
The postal workers started a legal rotating strike on June 3. When exercising their legal right to strike as part of the collective bargaining process, they made sure that it did not stop the mail delivery so many Canadians depend on. Actually, it was only after Canada Post shut the doors and locked the workers out on June 15 that we started to notice that the mail service had been interrupted. This past week, the government chose to interfere with the collective bargaining process and institute back-to-work legislation.
The government's proper role in this process is not to interfere, but rather to tell its own crown corporation to get back to the negotiating table and to work out a fair and equitable collective agreement. The government's role is not to aid the corporation to achieve its bargaining goals through back-to-work legislation. This legislation removes all incentive for Canada Post to come back to the negotiating table and relieves Canada Post of its obligation to bargain, never mind bargaining in good faith.
This act by the Minister of Labour is undermining the collective bargaining process that many women and men have struggled, sacrificed, and fought for over the course of many years. When I was a conciliator with the provincial labour board, we pushed for all parties to come to a negotiated settlement on their own.
The strength of those who came before us and defended the right to collective bargaining created benefits for all Canadians. Today's young women and men who are entering the workforce are able to do so knowing that they will be able to enjoy benefits such as the eight-hour workday—of course, I do not have this but most Canadians do—the concept of a weekend, standards and measures to ensure safe working conditions, parental leave, and many others.
Basically, we all have an improved standard of living because of the work that the union movement and workers have accomplished over the years. It is also important to note that the workers of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the CUPW, have themselves been responsible for many advancements over the years.
As a young woman, I would like to outline a few of them.
In 1974, the CUPW members stood in solidarity with the mostly female workforce of the coder machine operators. These workers went on an illegal strike to defend the need for equality for the women who were in the low-paid coder classification.
In 1981, the CUPW workers went on strike and won paid maternity leave. This allowed many young women the freedom not to have to choose between raising a family and following and building a career. We women now know that we will not have to worry about financial barriers to taking care of our newborns, and that we will have a job to return to after maternity leave.
In 1985, the CUPW organized and obtained a collective agreement representing cleaning staff in Toronto, one of the first bargaining units in the private sector, many of whom were women.
The union movement and CUPW in particular have a strong history of standing up and fighting for the struggles that led to workers' rights and increased equality for women.
As women, young workers, workers of all ages and community members with a conscience, we cannot sit idly by as the rights of all workers are taken away and deteriorate.
Postal workers are our neighbours and friends. They are everyday Canadians who deserve decent wages, benefits and good working conditions.
They provide vital services to my constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River and to all Canadians alike, including single parents who depend on the monthly child tax benefit cheque, seniors receiving payments through their GIS or OAS who do not have direct deposit, Canadians who depend on the CPP disability benefit payments, low-income Canadians waiting on a tax return cheque, individuals waiting for their passports and newcomer families who use the mail service for their family sponsorship applications to be reunited with their loved ones. These neighbours across the country are waiting on Canada Post to unlock the doors and unseal the red mail boxes so their lives can return to normal.
The postal workers are asking for the same thing my neighbours are asking for: to go back to work and continue to deliver the millions of pieces of mail every single day.
Through this back-to-work legislation the government has decided to punish the workers by imposing a contract with wage increases much lower than Canada Post's last offer. Let me outline some of the details.
Canada Post's offer was 1.9% in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and 2% in 2014, well below the 3.3% rate of inflation.
The government's legislation, however, would offer something much lower than that. It offers 1.75% in 2011, only 1.5% in 2012 and 2% in 2013 and 2014. This is despite the fact that Canada Post is profitable, earning $281 million last year alone. Its CEO, as we have heard, earned an incredible $497,000 plus a 33% bonus, whereas the offer on the table offers a two-tiered wage system discriminating against young workers because Canada Post wants to roll back the starting salaries for young workers.
This proposal is unfair and unwarranted against young workers.
As Paul Moist said, “There are no such things as two-tier rent or mortgages: young and new workers don't get a discount on utility or grocery bills”.
I agree with him. I never got an opportunity to pay a discounted rent because I was a student working a part-time job. This is an outrageous—