Enforcement officers with the Ministry of the Attorney General have given formal notice to demonstrators outside a massive mail sorting facility in Mississauga that they are in violation of a court order and must stop blocking the entrances to the facility.
Dozens of picketers representing a number of unions began blocking the entrances to the 24/7 Gateway Postal facility on Dixie Road early Saturday morning as part of a show of support for Canada Post employees who were legislated back to work earlier this week.
The workers had said that they intended to remain until 10 p.m. but at 11 a.m. enforcement officers with the Ministry of the Attorney General arrived at the site to inform them that they could not block vehicles from entering and exiting the facility and have to remove physical barriers that they had set up across several entrances.
The attempt to shut down the protest comes after Canada Post was granted an order by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday that prohibits any party from “obstruction or otherwise interfering in any fashion, and for any period of time, with any persons or vehicles seeking entrance to or exit from” its premises.
“As of this moment because you have been served you are going to have to remove your barricade,” one of the enforcement officers told the picketers.
The enforcement officers went to each individual picket line set up outside the facility and read the court order to the demonstrators.
The demonstrators, in turn, said that they would consult with legal counsel before making a determination on whether to continue their action.
“When the time comes and we are told in no uncertain terms that we can’t remain then individuals will make a decision. Some will stay and some will leave to go to the sidelines,” Barry Weisleder of Socialist Action told CP24. “Whatever happens the important thing is we are here for postal workers. We are here in solidarity and we are here to stand up for the right to free collective bargaining.”
Picketers had been blocking trucks from accessing facility
The picketers have been letting Canada Post workers into the facility but have said that they will not allow mail to go in or out.
As a result, a long line of trucks were seen parked outside the entrance to the facility on Saturday.
The picketers include members of CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the United Food and Commercial Workers, among other unions.
“We are blocking every entrance to this facility. This is the busiest postal facility in the country and we are here to send a very clear message. There may be 50,000 CUPW members who have been legislated back to work but they are not the only workers that care about the right to strike,” CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn told CP24 earlier in the day. “We are demanding that the federal government, who are actually instructing Canada Post, get them to actually sit down and negotiate with these workers.”
Canada Post says protest is in violation of court order
The federal government passed legislation to bring an end to rotating strikes that had slowed mail delivery across the country on Monday evening.
In response, members of other unions have been picketing outside Canada Post facilities to protest the use of back-to-work legislation, which prompted Canada Post to seek the court injunction.
In a statement provided to CP24 on Saturday morning, Canada Post said that the demonstrators are in violation of the court order and are currently partaking in “illegal picketing.”
The Crown Corporation added that that it will “take all appropriate action to address illegal activity impacting the collection and delivery of mail and parcels to Canadians.
Hahn, however, called the demonstration a “peaceful” and “legal” protest while speaking with CP24.
“Legislating workers back to work is actually against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so if Canada Post wants to talk about what is legal and what is right they should be focused on going back to the table and dealing fairly with postal workers and not trying to intimidate folks,” Hahn said.
Hahn said that more than 100 members of his union will participate in today’s protest in four shifts.
Sara Labelle, who is a vice president with OPSEU, told CP24 that all told hundreds of people will participate in the demonstration. She said that the unions participating want Canada Post workers to know that their rights matter.
“Their rights were trampled on so we are here to let them know that we are standing in solidarity with them. That while they cannot be out here on a picket line exercising their democratic rights we will stand here and hold the line for them,” she said. “We will allow them to go into work and they will do their shifts because they have been legislated back but we are going to stand out here and make sure the mail doesn’t go in and the mail doesn’t out because we believe in free collective bargaining and we believe in the right to strike’