Negotiations aimed at averting a nationwide postal strike were set to continue over the weekend, but an interruption to mail delivery is still very much a possibility.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) threatened to give the mandated 72-hour notice for a strike on Friday, but as of press time that had not been delivered.
The negotiations, which cover a range of issues, were set to continue over the weekend.
Bev Ray, president of the Edmonton union local, said Canada Post should realize a strike is a very real possibility.
“With the talks that have been going on since October, the members are ready for a line to be drawn in the sand, if need be.”
John Caines, a spokesperson for Canada Post said the crown corporation had not received the strike notice as of Friday afternoon and was not expecting one, based on discussions with the national president of the CUPW.
“We are continuing right now with the union. We have tabled a competitive offer that we think will make employees better off than they are today.”
Caines said the offer, which includes a wage increase, job security and a continuation of a benefit plan and sick leave program is more than fair.
He also said there is no back-up plan in the event of a strike. Customers would simply be without mail until the issue is resolved.
Ray said the union is concerned the new deal would delineate between new employees and older workers, creating two tiers of employees. She added that in Canada Post’s offer the wages will be lower for new employees.
“It is a completely different benefit program, pension program, sick leave program for new employees.”
Ray said the union is also concerned about the corporation’s modernization program, which is changing the way carriers sort and deliver the mail. She contends it has led to reduced service, longer working hours for carriers and poses a greater risk of injury.
“There are major issues that are related to health and safety for the postal transfer across the country.”
Caines said the program has been under way for several years and completely separate from current bargaining. “That is not part of the negotiations.”
Ray said Canada Post is pressuring its workers and reducing services to its customers at a bizarre time, because the company has been turning profits for 15 years.
“Canadians have a right to demand an improved postal service instead of one that continues to strip away services from the average Canadian.”
Canada Post contends the service is being used less often leading to lower mail volumes, a trend the organization expects to continue and they have to look for savings.
Ray disputes that outlook and said the union has consistently asked for numbers to back up those projections.