OTTAWA – A proposed 30-day negotiating truce between Canada Post and its largest union has raised a glimmer of hope that mail will continue to flow next week.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers, facing being locked out by their employer on Monday, put out the idea Friday morning in hopes the month-long cooling off period would keep packages and mail moving under the old contract while “intensive negotiations” continue.
The union also said it was willing to drop a formal complaint that Canada Post had refused to negotiate fairly if the Crown corporation agreed to the 30-day truce.
Canada Post has countered the union proposal, saying it is willing to continue bargaining for another month but only if the union agrees to binding arbitration in the event a deal can’t be reached — a proposition CUPW had previously rejected.
Without a truce or deal, Canada Post will be in a legal position to lock out the 50,000 unionized employees starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET, after pushing back a Friday ultimatum.
“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,” CUPW national president Mike Palecek said in a statement.
“Postal workers want to work and people need to know that it’s safe to use the mail system.”
In a statement, the postal service said binding arbitration would eliminate uncertainty for workers and for customers, who are already moving business to private couriers.
“What Canada Post has put forward is a reasonable approach that will end the uncertainty immediately and allow for meaningful discussions at the bargaining tables,” the statement said.
The union rejected binding arbitration earlier this week after Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk floated the idea to both parties.
The two sides appear to be far apart on several major issues after seven months of negotiations, including 60 days of conciliation talks and more than 30 days with federal mediators.
The sticking points remain a union request to increase wages for rural and suburban mail carriers who are paid about 30 per cent less than their urban counterparts, and a Canada Post request for pension changes for new hires designed to save costs over time.