Reject the Back to Work Legislation: Solidarity with Postal Workers!

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has once again decided to fight for their interests and dignity as workers. And once again, their bosses in Canada Post have denied their requests, forcing the second postal strike in 10 years. The Government of Canada has unsurprisingly stepped in to save the bosses with back-to-work legislation, a move that was ruled unconstitutional when they did the same thing last time CUPW went on strike. As if we needed further proof, this shows again that the state is run for and by the capitalist class; it doesn’t matter how “unconstitutional” something is, the government will do it if it helps the capitalist class secure their profits.

Almost every major workers’ struggle in Canada during the last decade has been resolved with back-to-work legislation. The state, acting on behalf of the capitalist class, has free reign to dictate when, how, and whether workers in Canada have the “right” to strike. It’s clear, this “right” only exists when it’s convenient and not too disruptive for capitalist production. Capitalist profits come before human need, and the state steps in to reinforce this imperative.

This isn’t a bug of the system; it’s a feature. The current labour relations regime was designed to limit the power of workers in fighting for their interests and to replace radical leaders willing to fight for the working class with a comfortable layer of bureaucrats who are more interested in maintaining their dues base than in the working class winning power. They make us ask for permission to strike, they ban sympathy strikes and secondary pickets, they let the bosses hire scabs, and if it looks like we’ll win, they legislate us back to work. It’s a rigged system, and it will stay rigged no matter what party sits in Parliament.

The recent wave of illegal solidarity pickets disrupting Canada Post’s distribution centres is a direct challenge to the fake labour-peace we’ve been forced into. As workers we are sending a clear message to the rest of the working class that we don’t have to play the boss’ rigged game by their rigged rules. The pickets provide a small glimpse at the power that the working class can wield if we’re organized outside the state-sponsored labour relations apparatus: we can shut down production, and we can take that power and build a new world.

The solidarity pickets point to the way forward for the working class. Yes, we want safer work and pay equity, but these demands –the demands that are currently on the table- are only a small piece of the puzzle. The working class and oppressed people should run the whole show, all of society: we should control the state, and organize production to meet human needs rather than to maximize profits. We can do that, but it will take a revolution to transform society. It will take building power. And for now, we get there by breaking free of the rules of engagement the capitalist class and its state have laid down for us when we strike.

In the coming days there will be more community disruption of “business as usual” for Canada Post. And in the coming days, postal workers will face a choice: will you follow the back-to-work legislation imposed on you by the boss’s government, or will you ignore it, charting a new path forward for workers across Canada? We hope you choose the latter, and we promise you that progressives and revolutionaries across the country will be on the lines beside you regardless of your choice.