Individuals and small business operators have been encouraged over the past few weeks to find alternative methods of sending and receiving mail and packages as the possibility of a Canada Post strike or lockout becomes more of a reality.
After six months of negotiations between Canada Post Corp and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and no agreement on the top issues, including pension plan and pay equity for rural and suburban postal workers, the union is now in a legal position for strike action. Either side must give 72 hours notice before a strike or lockout.
A labour strike by Canada Post employees may be coming as early as Thursday as no agreement was reached over the weekend.
Many in the general public are scratching their heads as to why an agreement cannot be reached, particularly at a time when the economy is slowed. Some are also suggesting that a strike will cause harm to public perception about an entity that is seeing fewer people use traditional mail service for sending and receiving their correspondence. On the flip side, parcel service has increased in recent years as more people shop online.
CUPW is fighting for pay equality for its rural and suburban workers, while Canada Post says the equality is already there.
Canada Post spokesperson, Jon Hamilton said last week that two different models are used in two different collective agreements (one of urban, one for rural).
“A rural or suburban mail carrier is a variable pay approach, based on the activity within a route; so how far you drive, how many places you visit,” he said. “For some in rural areas, it’s more of a part-time job, and for others, especially in the dense suburban areas, it’s a full-time job with the potential to make more, and under the offers we put forward, that will only improve.”
Talks on pension plans for future employees have been ongoing for months, but no resolution was reached as of last weekend. While CUPW tabled offers on Friday evening, Canada Post said those offers would add at least $1 billion in new costs over the term of a new collective agreement. CUPW rejected Canada Post’s offer for the pension plan.
CUPW said on Sunday that it had no immediate plans to serve strike notice, but business has certainly slowed as people have sought alternatives for their mail to avoid it being stuck in the system should a strike occur.
“The union is fighting for a sustainable public post office and better services for all Canadians,” CUPW president, Mike Palecek said on Sunday. “We don’t want a labour conflict, especially when there’s a public review, but Canada Post is forcing our backs to the wall. When the company is as profitable as Canada Post has been, there is absolutely no justification for stealing our pensions.”
With a deep division between Canada Post and CUPW very clear as of Sunday, Canadians should expect that a strike or lockout is imminent.
CUPW represents 50,000 postal workers across Canada.