Mr. Pat Martin
Mr. Chairman, more than any other clause I think in the legislative package that caught everyone's eye and that everyone was immediately drawn to was clause 9. There was very broad agreement among our caucus that this clause had to be amended in order to make the legislation fair, to not tie the hands of the arbitrator and to result in any kind of settlement that might have a lasting resolve to try to put back together the shattered labour relations environment at Canada Post.
We have put forward amendments to the legislation that we believe would still meet the goals of the government when it puts forward this language, but take away some of the language that we felt was overtly partisan or one-sided.
We had strong feelings that the arbitrator, if bound by the original legislation, would have no option really in bringing down their ruling. They would have no opportunity to consider all the normal factors that an arbitrator should be bound by because there would be a preconceived outcome to the arbitrator's role by some of this language.
For instance, some of the language that we particularly objected to was the original language in clause 9(a)(i) where Canada Post would be bound to perform financially in a commercially acceptable range.
At first reading, that seems like a fairly innocuous statement. In actual fact, it would be an enormous policy shift for Canada Post in terms that it would be now bound. First of all, it is too vague because it does not say what sort of comparison, what is commercially viable. Second, it would be bound to a different way of conducting business forever.
Our feeling was that if the government is interested in changing a mandate of Canada Post or changing the Canada Post Corporation Act, it should be done through the front door with amendments moved to the Canada Post Corporation Act and not through the back door with back to work legislation.
This clearly went beyond what was necessary to get the employees back to work or to settle this round of bargaining. In fact, it read like a wish list for Canada Post.
The amendment that we are putting forward would still address all the legitimate concerns of the architects of this original clause but in a far more balanced way.
We would suggest that the real goal here is that the mediator/arbitrator shall be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with the Canada Post Corporation Act and the viability and financial stability of Canada Post, taking into account that Canada Post Corporation must without recourse undo increases in postal costs, operate efficiently, improve their productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.
That really sums up what the goals and objectives should be for a well-run organization bound by the parameters of the existing Canada Post Corporation Act.
We would hope that the other parties see fit to support this as a way to make the whole system more balanced and more fair, and to preclude tying the arbitrator to any preconceived outcome before they even get a chance to deal with the issues.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Division No. 48