Canada Post is facing further delay in its attempts to finalise a labour contract for the urban members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
The Federal Court of Canada ordered a stay of proceedings in the current arbitration process last week, and set a date for a full judicial review over the government’s appointment of Guy Dufort as arbitrator.
The arbitration process is set to decide on the details of a labour contract that has already seen salary levels written into back-to-work legislation following last summer’s strike action at Canada Post.
Negotiations between Canada Post and CUPW over a new collective bargaining agreement for the union’s 48,000 urban members have not proved fruitful since they opened in October 2010.
Canada Post has been keen to reduce its labour costs through the new contract, while the union had been arguing for wage increases to reflect the 16 consecutive years of profitability – which ended this year partly thanks to the union’s strike action.
Dufort was appointed as arbitrator by ministers back in March, after the union had already pressured a previous appointee, Justice Coulter Osbourne, to step down because he did not speak French.
CUPW has applied for a judicial review over the appointment on the grounds that Dufort has political links with Canada’s ruling Conservative Party, and has previously been employed by Canada Post “for several years”.
The judicial review is now expected to be heard by the Federal Court in July.
CUPW president Denis Lemelin said the stay of proceedings was “another victory” for his union, although he said negotiation was the “real solution” to the labour contract dispute.
“Going the arbitration route is likely to take many months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Lemelin said, adding that whichever party loses out in the arbitration would be looking to claw back any lost ground in the next collective bargaining negotiations.
“Canada Post management should assume their responsibilities and return to the bargaining table to negotiate a collective agreement that meets the needs of postal workers and the public.”
Canada Post was not responding to requests for comment today or yesterday.