Canada post issues 72-hour lockout notice to postal workers

July 5, 2016   ·   0 Comments

If you have mail you have wanted to send, now is definitely not the time to do it. As of this morning, Canada Post issued their 72-hour notice warning employees could be locked out as of Friday morning.

Just after midnight, Canada Post sent out a press release notifying the public of the lockout following failed negotiations with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

“The uncertainty caused by the prolonged negotiations and the union’s strike mandate is having a negative and escalating impact on the postal service,” said Canada Post via their press release.

As of Friday, July 8, Canada Post will change the terms and conditions of employment for all employees represented by CUPW, as the old collective agreements no longer apply. Under the new terms and conditions, Canada Post says their employees will continue to receive their regular pay, as well as some benefits like prescription drug coverage.

“The corporation must now respond to the rapidly deteriorating volumes and the financial impact to the business, using the means provided in the Canada Labour Code,” wrote Canada Post.

This means that some items, which were under the previous collective agreements, have been cancelled to line up with the minimum conditions established under the labour code. Another change includes Canada Post’s ability to adjust staffing according to the amount of work they feel is required.

On Monday, Canada Post told CUPW that the offers, which had been presented on June 25, are to be considered final, as they felt they represented ‘a fair and reasonable framework for settlements’.

Although the 72-hour lockout notice has been provided, Canada Post iterated this does not necessarily mean the business will not be operating on Friday.

Following the announcement from Canada Post, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) issued a statement about the situation, accusing the corporation of ‘driv[ing] them out onto the streets without pay’ in order to force workers to accept the steep concessions being imposed on them.

“We knew this was their game all along,” said Mike Palecek, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. “They are sabotaging the public review of the post office. They refused to negotiate fairly with us and now they’re locking the doors and will try to starve us into submission.”

The CUPW says that much of the negotiations were in an attempt to get pay equity for its female dominated workforce, as well as stave off the company’s demands for massive rollbacks.

Since the negotiations began, Canada Post tabled only one offer, and would not budge on the offers details throughout the talks. Now, the company is warning they may shut down the postal service, blaming the move on its workers.

“This is brought to you by the people who wanted to take away home delivery,” added Mr. Palecek. “They wanted us to sell out the next generation of Canadian postal workers for a quick deal, but we stood firm. Now they’re going to hold the public hostage until they get what they want.”

In 2011, Canada Post locked out postal workers following failed negotiations for their contract renewals at that time. The Conservatives forced workers back to work using legislation that has been called by some experts ‘unconstitutional’, imposing a four-year collective agreement on CUPW.

CUPW says they are unsure at this point what the Liberal Government will do about the current situation. So far, the Liberals had issued a request for Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra to resign, which the CEO refused.

“We will not be bullied by a corporation that is supposed to be providing people with a public service, that is raking in millions of profits every year, and that is wilfully and needlessly waging war upon tens of thousands of workers and their families,” said Mr. Palecek.

According to Canada Post, the Unions demands are unaffordable, equalling more than $1 billion in requests. The corporation rejected these requests, sticking to their June 25th offer, and citing ‘rapidly deteriorating volumes and the financial impact’ to the business as the basis for the lockout.

“Customers are already looking to avoid the risk of a work disruption,” said Canada Post. “Examples of the impact are being felt across the network.”

These examples included a decline of at least 75 per cent from parcel volumes being moved to other carriers, creating less than enough parcels to last through an entire processing shift, as well as lettermail being down by at least 50 percent over the weekend.

In an interview with CBC’s Metro Morning radio show, Mr. Palecek blamed the decrease on Canada Post’s warnings of the possible labour dispute.

“Canada Post has been out in the media for weeks saying there’s going to be an interruption and now they’re complaining there’s no mail or parcels in the system,” he told the host of the show. “Jeez, I wonder why?”

While Canada Post is claiming costs are too high to maintain a profit and meet the demands of their postal workers, CEO Mr. Chopra signed a new $2.5 million contract from the Conservative Government in 2014, giving him a salary of $500,000 a year. It is estimated the CEO also receives upwards of $400,000 in bonuses annually, with other upper level management also receiving six-figures a year.

At the time this article went to press, Canada Post had not provided any warnings of the impending lockout to customers on their website’s homepage, or anywhere other than their media page.

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