Canadian government in bid to avert postal strike
Canada’s government has stepped in to try to broker a deal between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Yesterday the union met with Canada Post’s negotiating team for just 10 minutes to hear a firm “no” from the Crown Corporation in response to the CUPW’s final offer for a new four-year collective bargaining agreement.
With prospects growing that a postal strike will take place from midnight on Thursday night, Canadian government minister Lisa Raitt is now attempting to force compromise between the two sides.
The Federal Minister of Labour has proposed a meeting today (June 1) for the union and Canada Post president Deepak Chopra to attend.
The union handed in its legally-required 72-hour notice of an intention to strike on Monday, a notice that stated the strike would be held from 11.59pm on Thursday (June 2).
After receiving the notice, the government minister said she was “concerned” a strike was being considered and was “taking this situation very seriously”.
“Any work stoppage would impact Canada’s economic well-being. We are currently going through an economic recovery, which remains fragile,” Raitt said.
“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting unions and employers, while advancing stable labour relations. I remind the parties that the best solution in any dispute is one that the parties reach themselves. I therefore urge and encourage the parties to reach a negotiated agreement as soon as possible.”
The CUPW has been negotiating for a new wage deal for its 48,000 urban-based Canada Post members since October. Monday’s final offer to the Corporation left it some distance from Canada Post’s final offer.
Despite some areas of compromise, key areas of continuing disagreement include annual wage increases – with the union seeking annual rises of up to 3.5%, while Canada Post offers up to 2% rises each year.
The union is also objecting to reforms of Canada Post’s sick leave system, and is attempting to press the Corporation to branch into non-postal services such as banking in order to counter declining mail volumes.
In a statement issued yesterday, the union said: “Today we met with the CPC bargaining committee to receive their response to our final offer. At the meeting, which lasted less than 10 minutes, the Employer stated that they were rejecting our offer in its entirety.”
Canada Post warned yesterday that a postal strike would “hurt millions of Canadians”.
The Corporation issued a statement to the media stating that work stoppages would hit thousands of small and medium-sized businesses reliant on Canada Post for invoicing and product distribution.
It also warned of the impact on isolated rural communities and seniors dependent on the mail.
Commenting on the union negotiations, the Corporation said: “In order to maintain service to all Canadians while remaining financially self-sufficient, Canada Post is making necessary changes by investing in its infrastructure, reducing management and rationalizing its operations. But the company needs to do more to balance the needs of its customers, employees and Canadians.”
It added that the offer on the table for the CUPW aimed to address declining lettermail volumes and a $3bn black hole in the Corporation pension system.