Strike looms as Canada Post says no deal on latest union offer
Canada Post has said an 11th-hour offer from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers does not provide a basis for avoiding damaging work stoppages. Facing the prospect of the first postal strikes in Canada in 14 years, the Crown Corporation said the latest offer from the union seeking a new four-year wage deal for its 48,000 urban-based members was a “setback” in the collective bargaining process.
Canada Post’s negotiation team said the latest offer from the CUPW “falls back to the union’s original demands”.
The Corporation said that with the current declining mail volumes, it would have to raise the price of postage by 15% to meet the union’s latest demands, which provided “no realistic solutions” to the current state of the mail market.
The union’s offer would no nothing to address Canada Post’s $3bn pension deficit and would effectively add $1.4bn of new costs to Canada Post over the life of the contract, the Corporation claimed.
Changes demanded in how advertising and promotional mail is delivered would put the entire direct mail business “at risk”, Canada Post added.
The Corporation is now waiting to see if the union will now call a postal strike. The union is legally able to call a strike from tomorrow, but must give at least 72 hours’ notice of a work stoppage, which has not yet been given.
With a strike therefore unlikely to take place before Saturday, Canada Post said it was still committed to further negotiation, and would remain so even if a strike was called.
Canada Post has issued another counter offer to the union, beyond its “final offer” send late last week, again proposing annual wage increases, job security and “generous” vacation leave. The offer demonstrated it was “serious” about reaching a settlement, it said in a statement to the media.
In the mean time, Canada Post said: “It remains business as usual across our network as talks continue. Customers and the public will be notified immediately if the labour situation at Canada Post changes, or if CUPW provides 72-hour notice of its intention to begin strike activities.”
Canada Post has been negotiating with the CUPW since last October for a new collective bargaining agreement. The union is holding out for wages and benefits to rise, reflecting the Corporation’s 16-year run of profitability, but the Corporation’s negotiation team says the demands do not reflect the current conditions in the mail market, which is facing increasing competition from internet communications as well as the slow rebound from the recession.
The CUPW’s national president and chief negotiator Denis Lemelin today described Canada Post’s demands as “extreme”.
He said: “For sixteen consecutive years CPC has been profitable. Yet, throughout the current negotiations, the Employer has taken extreme positions concerning the financial aspects of the negotiations. Instead of identifying problems and discussing solutions, they came with ultimatums.”
The union is continuing to oppose changes to sick leave entitlement, vacation time and pension arrangements, and wants a 3.5% annual wage rise, around double the increase offered by Canada Post.
- An agreement has been reached between the union and Canada Post on delivery of pension and welfare cheques in the event of a strike, to protect the elderly and those on low income.