[Update: continuing coverage here]
Postal workers were legislated back to work yesterday, bringing an end to 37 days of rotating strikes and occupations. It is now illegal for workers to strike. They face fines ranging from $1,000 a day for individuals, up to $50,000 a day for union officers, in addition to fines against the union. In response, a “cross picket” of supporters has sprung up outside the main mail processing plant in Vancouver, BC.
We spoke to someone on the scene.
I hear you’re on the line in Vancouver right now.
There are about 50 of us on the line – we’re running a hard line out. We’re encouraging workers to come into the plant, but we’re not letting any mail out. We’re inspecting trucks to make sure they’re not carrying any mail as they leave.
Who is coordinating this? Who is there on the picket line?
We’re a group of concerned citizens. Many of us belong to unions, but it’s not being coordinated by unions. We’re doing this in solidarity with the posties.
So you brought this together through word of mouth?
What’s your plan? For the day or for tomorrow?
The plan is just for today. We’re going to have people come down in waves or shifts, and hold the line.
How long have you been holding the line so far?
I arrived at 5:45 AM. We’ve been here since then.
What plant are you outside of?
5940 Ferguson. It’s the Pacific Plant.
Are there other ones that have pickets happening?
Just this one – it’s the main processing plant.
Can you explain how you see this as part of the struggle? How you are acting in solidarity with postal workers?
The back-to-work legislation is unjust, as we oppose it. We don’t want to see posties get fined, so we decided to take this action without coordinating with their union. We don’t want to hurt them, so we’re not blocking them from going to work. We’re just not letting any mail out.
Do you have thoughts about what should happen in terms of the government, the legislation, and Canada Post?
I think the legislation should be rescinded. Canada Post should get back to the bargaining table. The posties have very reasonable demands. We universally support those demands, and fundamentally, we want to send a message to the government that they can’t get away with just legislating a union back to work. And if they do that there’s going to be a response.
Do you know if there are pickets happening in any other cities?
We don’t know right now. We’re not coordinated with other cities. But we hope other cities will follow our example.