The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has rejected an offer from Canada Post to undergo binding arbitration for its labour dispute.
The union representing about 50,000 postal workers says it is declining arbitration as a “matter of principle” and hopes to instead reach a negotiated settlement.
Canada Post announced it would extend its lockout notice to next week and suggested binding arbitration as a way for both sides to come together and resolve the labour dispute.
The Crown Corporation had originally planned to suspend the collective agreement with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers on Friday, but that deadline was pushed to Monday.
However, there are currently no talks planned between the two sides.
The announcement late Wednesday night from Canada Post was unexpected, since spokesman Jon Hamilton said earlier in the day that the two sides couldn’t be further apart.
One of the main stumbling blocks is Canada Post’s push for pension changes it claims it needs to reduce costs.
Dean Woronoski, President of London Local CUPW, said the other involves their push for a wage increase for rural mail carriers.
“Rural and suburban mail carriers are 70 per cent women and their comparable hourly wage to the urban group is 28 per cent less,” said Woronoski. “Just last week, Barack Obama was in Canada and in the background we had Justin Trudeau and his wife applauding and setting up pay equity committees for Canada, and yet we have Canada Post who have this workforce of mostly women who are paid substantially less.”
Woronoski added that they will not issue strike notice, as they’re committed to the bargaining process.
“We have every intention of coming to work every day and continuing to deliver the mail and it is not the union’s intention to bring us on strike,” he said. “We want to have an negotiated settlement without a strike.”
Canada Post could lockout workers as of early Monday morning if a tentative agreement is not reached.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that the federal government will only consider back-to-work legislation in the event of a prolonged work stoppage.
Should a labour stoppage go ahead, government cheques like Canada Pension Plan, old age security, and Canada Child Benefit have all been deemed essential by the Canada Revenue Agency and will continue to be delivered.
With files from Natalie Lovie and Rana Aladdin