If Canada Post and its unions can’t come to an agreement by July 2, a strike will affect Canadians waiting for mail, which includes their bills.
For the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) the issue is over concessions made by Canada Post in its negotiations to bring after hours delivery of packages to customers.
“They’re pretty massive cuts on the table at a time when Canada Post is profitable,” explained Mike Palecek, national president of CUPW.
He added that it is funny Canada Post does not mention the cuts to benefits and job security as part of the negotiations.
“Those are the major issues. Another thing we’re pushing for is equality with urban and rural mail careers,” said Palecek.
Compared to urban mail careers, rural careers average about 28 per cent less salary, he explained. Add to that the majority of rural mail careers are female, Palecek wants to see that fixed. Canada Post justifies that as market advantage, said Palecek.
There are 42,000 urban and 18,000 rural workers employed by Canada Post. Palecek says there are some cases where urban and rural workers have routes across the street from each other but do not get equal pay. He says Canada Post is refusing to work with the union on this issue.
As for weekend package delivery, Palecek does admit the structures for working on the weekend are somewhat complicated considering the way the week is set up is for weekdays only.
As for Canada Post, the company said when negotiations fell through at the end of 2015 conciliation was initiated to try to bring the sides together, explained Mouktar Abdillahi, spokesperson for Canada Post.
“We started negotiations with our two unions (rural and urban) back at the end of 2015,” he said.
Since then the labour minister brought in a conciliator to help with negotiations although that does not appear to have helped bring the two groups closer to a common consensus.
With July 2 just days away, Abdillahi said the company cannot guarantee mail delivery won’t be disrupted if the strike starts. “We’re going to continue negotiating to get a deal before the end of June.”
He added there are three areas the company is looking at with its negotiations with regard to package delivery after the typical Monday through Friday 9 to 5 work week. Those considerations are being fair to employees, affordable and sustainable long-term contracts and meeting the needs of customers rather than being a burden.
Abdillahi said the package delivery market is competitive and Canada Post must either be able to compete or it will lose customers and market share. That is not possible with the current agreement.
“What it means is on the weekend, that’s double time,” he said.
“It’s not to increase services but we’re looking for flexibility in the current structure to answer the customer’s demands on the weekend.” he added.
Most companies have been notifying their customers that delays in payments of bills by mail even if it is due to a strike will be subject to late payment penalties.