19 March 2012
Government appoints former Conservative candidate as postal arbitrator
OTTAWA—Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has appointed Guy Dufort, a retired labour relations lawyer, as the new arbitrator in the collective agreement negotiations between Canada Post (CPC) and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). Dufort became the arbitrator as of today.

"A retired labour relations lawyer, Mr. Dufort has worked in a number of economic sectors, including radio and television, the food industry and among aerospace companies," noted a release from Canada Post. "He has argued cases before the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Originally from Quebec, Mr. Dufort is fluently bilingual in English and French."

Guy Dufort
Guy Dufort

Dufort replaces Judge Coulter Osborne, who stepped down as the government-appointed arbitrator following a CUPW challenge that he had no prior labour relations experience and was unilingual. Canada Post said Dufort is not bound by any negotiations under Osborne.

Dufort last ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in the 2008 federal election (Westmount-Ville Marie riding). He was defeated by Liberal candidate Marc Garneau.

Under the terms of arbitration, Canada Post and CUPW will each present a final offer to Dufort, who will then select either Canada Post’s or CUPW’s offer in its entirety, noted Canada Post.

Meanwhile, the postal company has made an offer to the union's rural and suburban mail carriers (RSMC) according to CUPW. The proposed collective agreement, to extend until Dec. 31, 2015, proposes a three percent pay raise (as of Jan. 1, 2012) while on Jan. 1, 2013 a new "activity-based" compensation model will be introduced based on an hourly rate.

CUPW spokesperson Aalya Ahmad previously explained about 7,000 carriers who deliver to boxes in communities outside major cities (e.g. Kanata and Orleans in the Ottawa area) had an eight-year contract that expired on Jan. 1 of this year.

The union responded to the CPC offer through its website with discontent. "This offer creates differences between RSMCs from different regions," noted the union. "In some cases, the pay rate will be even less than it is today, further widening the wage gap between RSMCs and urban workers."

The union has also retained constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo of Ontario's Walkerton tainted-water inquiry fame regarding the fight against back-to-work legislation introduced by the Conservatives last year. While no update is available, Cavalluzzo said earlier this year the case "is in the early stages as we are collecting the union evidence which should be served shortly. As a result no hearing date has been set."

CUPW did not comment on what exactly this would mean if the union won the case against the back-to-work legislation.

This article was originally published on PrintCAN sister site Masthead.
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