All out at Canada Post?

A strike could be on the cards at Canada Post as the postal operator and its main union appear far apart in discussions over new staff contracts.

Neither a strike or lockout is legally possible until 26 September. Neither side as suggested such action, though some utility companies have taken the step of warning their customers that their bills might not be delivered on time.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has also been holding strike mandate rights across the country. It has indicated that the results of the nationwide votes over a Canada Post strike will be released later today or tomorrow.

The contract negotiations in question I’ve been taking place since November. Despite continuing throughout the summer with the conciliator, neither side have come close to agreement.

Under Canadian law, a 21 day cooling off process has to take place. This will end on 26 September, and from there the CUPW has the right to call a strike. At the same time Canada Post also has the legal right to lock the workers out – it however has made no such indication it will do so.

Union president Mike Palecek has said that CUPW “will do everything possible to achieve an agreement without a strike” but that workers “will have to be ready for some type of job action” if there is no deal by Sept. 26.

Canada Post presented the union with offers on Friday. In a statement, the agency told  that the offers “reflect the recent growth in our parcels business and the contributions our employees have made” by increasing pay rates and benefits, and outlining plans to work with CUPW on other issues both sides have deemed important.

The union’s initial response to the offers appeared to be less than enthusiastic. On its website, CUPW describes the offer for urban employees as containing “rollbacks and Trojan horses” and the offer for rural and suburban employees as “unacceptable” and ignoring “many key issues.”