A Monday morning lockout at Canada Post could be averted.
Canada Post has accepted the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ request for a 30-day cooling off period on the condition that the union agrees to go to binding arbitration if a deal still isn’t reached.
The fledgling truce between Canada Post and CUPW follows an earlier offer from the Crown Corporation to go straight to binding arbitration, which the union had declined.
“We are always left with unresolved issues when a contract is settled through arbitration,” says CUPW President Mike Palecek.
“We have a constitutional right to free collective bargaining which has just been upheld by superior court that we finally obtained and had recognized. Canada Post is addicted to government intervention. We want to tell them that they have to sit down and negotiate.”
While the two sides seem willing to avoid a labour disruption on Monday, they remain far apart on key issues including pay equity as well as cuts to pensions and benefits.
The union says rural, mostly female carriers are paid 28 per cent less than their urban counterparts, who are mostly male.
The two-tiered pay structure has been in place since 2003, but the union is now asking for it to be changed so rural carriers are paid the same hourly wage as those who deliver in urban streets.
“The problem is that Canada Post has appealed every single pay equity case all the way to the Supreme Court,” says Palecek.
“The last one took 28 years to settle and it was finally settled in 2011 when the Supreme Court ruled on it. A lot of those women were dead by the time the cheques were cut. There’s an active pay equity complaint right now from the postmasters for similar reasons.”
The union said it filed a formal complaint Wednesday alleging that Canada Post has refused to negotiate fairly but would withdraw that if the company agrees to the 30-day extension; just after noon Friday, Canada Post said it would agree as long as the union agrees to accept arbitration if a settlement still isn’t reached after 30 days.
With files from Rana Aladdin.