Negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) have reached an impasse leading to the expected lockout of approximately 50,000 postal workers on Friday July 8, 2016.
The two parties entered negotiations in November 2015 with CUPW looking to secure improvements in pay and working conditions for rural and suburban mail carriers (RSMCs) and Canada Post aiming to reshape pension and benefit plans to reduce the company’s deficit.
On July 1, CUPW rejected the post’s proposed changes to the pension plan for new employees and reiterated its demands for equal pay for its female-dominated rural workforce. Canada Post responded by serving a 72-hour notice regarding a change to the terms and conditions of employment for all workers represented by the union.
A statement by Canada Post read, “The uncertainty caused by the prolonged negotiations and the union’s strike mandate is having a negative and escalating impact on the postal service. Customers are already looking to avoid the risk of a work disruption.
“The corporation must now respond to the rapidly deteriorating volumes and the financial impact to the business, using the means provided in the Canada Labour Code.
“As of Friday, July 8, 2016, the terms and conditions of the current collective agreements will no longer apply. Under the new terms and conditions, employees will continue to receive their regular pay and some benefits such as applicable prescription drug coverage. Other items will be cancelled in line with the statutory minimum conditions established under the Canada Labour Code. The corporation will also have the flexibility to adjust staffing according to the amount of work required.”
The post claims that the uncertainty of strike action has resulted in a 75% decline in parcel volumes from the majority of its large e-commerce customers and that mail volumes are down in many facilities by as much as 50%. Canada Post also claims to have informed the CUPW that the June offer had been considered final, a matter disputed by the union.
“Until yesterday, the corporation was saying that its June 25 global offer was to serve as the basis of a settlement, but during the day yesterday, this message changed,” said George Floresco, chief negotiator, RSMC Unit, CUPW. “The corporation did an about-face and announced that its June 25 global offer was now a final offer. It also served a 72-hour lock-out notice to the union, which it intends to act upon on July 8, even if, by its own admission, this would hurt the company.”
When discussing pay
and contract hours, Floresco added, “RSMC unit members have been subjected to gender-based discrimination for
a long time. Almost 70% of this group are women, while nearly 70% of urban letter carriers are men.
“RSMCs’ working conditions are clearly inferior to the ones of urban unit members who perform the same work.
“Therefore, the union has put forward demands that are important for its members. For instance, through the introduction of an hourly wage rate, the union aims to resolve the inequity RSMCs have been subjected to. They must also be paid for all the hours worked and, when applicable, be paid at the overtime rate.
“Also, the union has requested, as a gesture of good faith, that the corporation stop restructuring routes on a basis of six and one half (6.5) scheduled hours per day and build routes to eight scheduled hours per day. These members, who are already underpaid, suffer a further reduction of their compensation.
“By doing that, the corporation’s offer, which falsely claims to considerably increase these members’ compensation, excludes a substantial portion of their compensation from the pension plan. By so doing, the corporation is trying to extend the precariousness of their situation beyond their working life.”
Mike Palecek, president of CUPW, said, “We knew this was their game all along. They are sabotaging the public review of the post office. They refused to negotiate fairly with us and now they’re locking the doors and will try to starve us into submission.
“They wanted us to sell out the next generation of Canadian postal workers for a quick deal, but we stood firm. Now they’re going to hold the public hostage until they get what they want.
“We will not be bullied by a corporation that is supposed to be providing people with public service, that is raking in millions in profits every year, and that is willfully and needlessly waging war upon tens of thousands of workers and their families.”
July 6, 2016