Union and Canada Post still "far apart" on fundamental issues

What could be a last meeting between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers before ministers force an end to the current postal shutdown has again failed to break the deadlock. Canada Post said today that yesterday’s meeting between its CEO Deepak Chopra and the union’s national president Denis Lemelin had left the two “far apart” on several fundamental issues.

In particular, the meeting failed to bring any resolution on wages, pension arrangements and sick leave reforms.

The Crown Corporation said the CUPW had too many demands that would drive up costs, limit operaitonal flexibility and restrict Canada Post’s ability to cope with declining mail volumes, more competition in the market and a $3.2bn black hole in its pension plan.

In a statement to the media, Canada Post said Chopra expressed disappointment at the meeting with the union’s position and noted that Canada Post needs to adjust its cost structure and recover from the financial damage that has been inflicted by the work disruption. The Corporation has said it has lost $100m in revenues since CUPW strikes began in Winnipeg on June 3.

Chopra concluded the meeting by noting that the union’s lack of movement is not in the best interests of long-term sustainability.

The CUPW, which has been negotiating a new wage deal for its 48,000 urban members since October, confirmed last night that its meeting with Chopra had achieved little other than both parties explaining their own positions.

Lemelin said in a statement: “Mr. Chopra has a major decision to make during the next few days. It is clear that the parties are still far apart because of CPC’s demands for concessions and their refusal to address the proposals of the union on issues such as health and safety, staffing and service expansion. If Canada Post management has the will, there is still a way to negotiate an agreement. The parties are both completely aware of the issues.”

The Canadian government is set to introduce its “Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act” into Parliament next week to force an end to the nationwide lock-out at Canada Post.

The government said the bill would bring an end to the work stoppage, with ministers saying the lock-out and previous postal strikes had caused “significant damage” to the Canadian economy.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday in Parliament: “As a consequence of their inability to come to an agreement, they are threatening serious damage on a wide swath of the Canadian public. This is not acceptable to the Canadian government or to the economy, and we will act to ensure that those who are not at the table have their interests protected.”

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