History of Labour Rights in Canada: Big and Small Lies We Accept
In 1979, Canada’s postal union (CUPW) bargained and bargained with the employer. Eventually, having exhausted all possibilities, it made the decision, supported by a huge majority of its voting members, that its members would no longer provide their services on the basis of the existing terms and conditions of the now expired collective agreement. Workers had determined, democratically, not to sell their labour power on those terms. In a liberal democracy, they had every right to take such a decision. Only a slave society would deny them this right.
The government of Canada decided otherwise. Unlike the union it did not consult its constituency. It enacted legislation to order the postal union and its workers to call off the strike, to sort and deliver the mail. They would be paid the amounts they were entitled to under the old agreement until an arbitrator would impose some other ones on them. The leadership of the union was legislatively instructed to tell its members that the strike was no longer legal, no longer legitimate. They were told what to say; they were told to say that they had not led their members properly and that their democratic practices were not worth a tinker’s cuss.
Glasbeek, Harry J., "History of Labour Rights in Canada: Big and Small Lies We Accept" (2018). Editorials and Commentaries. 170.