Jun 202011

By Terry O’Neill – The Tri-City News
Published: June 17, 2011 1:00 AM

FACE TO FACE: Should the posties be able to strike to back their demands?

Sorry to disappoint all my red-meat readers but I won’t be “going postal” over the ongoing postal strike. And neither will I be “mailing it in” to outline the reasons for my opinion on the matter.

Of course, it would be easy enough to oppose the economically destructive strike on multiple grounds related to the generous provisions of the deal the strikers are trying to protect, including the workers’ high starting salaries, their ability to bank sick days and their right to retire with a full pension at age 55.

These factors have certainly led many people to side with management at Canada Post and not the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

But it’s clear to me that, under the current system, the union has every right to fight for every penny of pay and every extra day of paid time off.

The problem is that the current system simply doesn’t serve the public interest. Specifically, it is unreasonable and against the public interest to allow government workers of this sort to strike.

Private sector-workers should certainly have the right to walk off the job to support their collective demands. And so, too, should government workers in sectors where there is competition with private-sector workers.

But if a service is so important that it must be provided by government on an exclusive basis, then it must also be considered important enough for lawmakers to ensure that service is delivered without interruption.

Conversely, if a service is not so important as to ensure its uninterrupted delivery, then the government should question why it’s in the business in the first place.

My colleague’s knee will likely be jerking rather acutely now but this is the predictable response of a person who sees nothing wrong with a group of workers’ ability to blackmail the public to back up contract demands.

But this ability clearly works against the public interest. And anyone doubting the union’s commitment to serving its own interests first should read a few lines from its constitution. “CUPW,” the document declares, “rejects all forms of trade unionism that fail to pose the basic division between the interests of workers and the interests of the employer.” So much for “public” service.

An award-winning journalist, a writer with Edmonton’s Report Magazine and Toronto’s Catholic Insight magazine, and co-host of RoadKillRadio.com, Face to Face columnist Terry O’Neill is a long-time Coquitlam resident who sits on the board of the Coquitlam Foundation and chairs the finance committee of St. Joseph’s Catholic parish.

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