Postal strike possible as early as Saturday

June 30, 2016   ·   0 Comments

On Monday morning, Canada Post issued a press release warning of a potential work disruption, which could begin as early as this weekend.

Government agencies, utility companies, and some workplaces began warning of an impending strike last week, when Canada Post accused its union of preparing to strike.

According to a report by CTV News last Thursday, Jennifer Savage of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) confirmed the union was conducting strike votes across the country, citing concerns about pension reform and job security as two of the driving factors.

Canada Post and CUPW have been involved in labour negotiations since late 2015, to address the expired contracts of Canadian postal workers. This week marks the final stretch of negotiation, with the expiry of talks occurring on July 2. If the parties have not been able to negotiate a settlement, either side could take action, with Canada Post locking out the employees, or staff taking legal strike action.

However, in order to do either, 72 hours notice must be given by either party, meaning for any action to occur legally on July 2, either side must have made their intentions known by Wednesday of this week.

While Canada Post is referring to any action as only a possibility at this point, they are warning customers to take precautions when it comes to mail delivery.

“In the event of a labour disruption, Canada Post will not operate,” wrote the company in a press release. “Mail and parcels will not be delivered, and no new items will be accepted. Any mail and parcels within the postal system during a work disruption will be secured and delivered as quickly as possible once operations resume.”

When Canada Post workers went on strike in 2011, the Conservative government ordered them back to work. The backlog of mail waiting, as well as mail that was in the system when the strike occurred caused several months of mail chaos before Canada Post got back on track.

Negotiations for the new contracts began in late 2015, when CUPW officially served Canada Post with a Notice to Bargain regarding the urban operations unit and the RSMC unit, and talks have been ongoing last year.

On Wednesday, Canada Post turned down a last-minute CUPW request for an extension to contract negotiations.

If the request had been granted, it would have given the parties an extra two weeks to reach an agreement and sign off on new contracts for both urban and rural postal workers before legal strike action or a lock-out could be initiated.

“We are asking management to give us a chance, to give the public review a chance, to keep sitting down with us at the bargaining table, and give the workers a chance to get a fair deal,” said Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, in a release.

But a spokesperson for the employer said Canada Post “has been attempting to move the negotiations forward since December with little success.”

Jon Hamilton added, “We also tabled offers on Saturday morning that are fair to our employees and customers and have yet to receive any formal response from CUPW. Given that, and the fact that any further delay will only add to the uncertainty for our customers and our employees, we cannot agree to further delays.”

With only two days left for the union and Canada Post to come to an agreement before a work stoppage could begin disrupting mail service across Canada, the negative impact of all the uncertainty is already being felt, Mr. Hamilton said. “We reminded the union that our negotiation teams are ready to meet 24/7 to finalize two deals.”

News of Canada’s Post’s refusal was greeted with a frosty response from Mr. Palecek on Wednesday afternoon.

“They don’t really want to give us a chance to settle a deal,” he said in an updated release. “They want us out and they want the public to blame the postal workers for management’s decisions.”

More information on the potential labour disruption was not available at press time. Updates will be posted online as the situation progresses.

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