UPDATED: Lockout deadline looms as two sides fail to agree on 30-day cooling off truce
It’s appears the country is headed for a disruption in the mail service.
Canada Post is set to lock out members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Monday at midnight after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on how to keep bargaining.
Earlier Friday, CUPW requested a 30-day cooking off period to allow the two sides to continue negotiation.
However, Canada Post would only agree to the union proposal if the union would agree to binding arbitration.
“The Canadian union postal workers is not excepting binding arbitration because we feel that there’s too many important issues on the table for us to gamble away our rights to negotiations,” said Brenda Muscoby-Yanke, President CUPW Nelson 790.
“The union is requesting that the corporation come to the table and bargain.”
“Postal workers do not want to disrupt the mail for Canadians and businesses so therefore we’ve asked for one month cooling off period so that we can have intense negotiations and have our demands met,” Muscoby-Yanke added.
With no deal on the horizon, Canada Post moves to a legal position to lock out the 50,000 unionized employees starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
In the event of a work stoppage, government benefit cheques like Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan payments would be the only mail delivered on the 20th of the month.
The two sides are far apart on two major issues — wages and pensions — after seven months of negotiations.
The union wants rural and suburban mail carriers to be paid by the hour, like urban letter carriers, rather than by how many packages they deliver.
“My message to all Canadians is please use our Postal Service,” Muscoby-Yanke said.
“We don’t want to stop working, we are not filing to strike, we want more services for Canadians,” she added.
“We feel that this is a very profitable organization for they have not lost any money for over 20 years, no taxpayers dollars goes into the corporation, as a matter fact we have paid over $2 billion back to the government in taxes and dividends.”
CUPW proposes Canada Post 30-day cooling off period to halt lockout
The union representing postal workers across the country is proposing a 30-day cooling off period to Canada Post management to address concerns about “uncertainty” in the mail system and give negotiations a chance to succeed.
“Our members, their families and all Canadians do not deserve to have this threat of a lockout ‘looming’ over our heads from a profitable public service,” Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said in a media release Friday on the CUPW website.
“Postal workers want to work and people need to know that it’s safe to use the mail system.”
Palecek said the union is prepared to engage in “intensive negotiations” with Canada Post during the cooling-off period, which would include an extension of the terms and conditions of 50,000 workers’ current contracts.
The union is trying to stave off the demands for cuts. As recently as Thursday, the union and Canada Post appeared to be miles apart on several major issues following seven months of negotiations.
Some of those issues include expanding services, working hours and salaries and wage inequities between rural and urban mail carriers.
However, the biggest hurdle is the future of the company pension plan.
Canada Post is offering to keep the status quo for existing plan members, but wants to switch the company’s pension plan from a defined benefit plan, to a defined contribution one.
The defined benefit pension plan offers plan members a steady monthly cheque every month while the defined contribution plan puts all the risk on plan members.
As a sign of good faith, it has offered to drop an unfair labour practices complaint filed against Canada Post if management agrees to the union’s proposal.
“Instead of negotiating with us fairly, this profitable crown corporation has been busy scaring businesses and the public off with threats of labour strife,” said Palecek.
“They need to give that a rest and get back to the table with us.”