With both parties at a deadlock, a disruption to the country’s mail service looks more and more like a reality, rather than a possibility.
Canada Post took a hard line Monday, warning any type of job action would result in a suspension of mail delivery by the Crown corporation.
“In the event of a labour disruption, Canada Post will not operate. Mail and parcels will not be delivered, and no new items will be accepted,” read a statement released Monday.
Mail and parcels already in the system will be secured and delivered as quickly as possible when operations resume. A lockout could occur as early as Saturday.
Canada Post issued deadlines for customers wanting guaranteed delivery by June 30. As of Wednesday, service options are limited to Xpresspost (local), expedited parcel (local) and priority (international, regional and local).
Friday is a statutory holiday and there will be no mail service.
Despite the threat of a lockout, CUPW members voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action.
The union released results of a strike vote Monday afternoon. Members were asked if they agreed to authorize the CUPW National Executive Board to call strike activities if necessary to achieve demands. Urban postal workers voted 94.2 per cent in favour of job action, while 91.2 per cent of rural and suburban mail carriers voted in support of striking.
Canada Post and CUPW have been in talks over a new collective agreement since late November.
In an unusual move, Canada Post released the details of its latest offer, put forward Saturday. The offer includes a wage increase and leaves current employees’ pensions and job security untouched. New hires would receive a Defined Contribution pension plan.
Canada Post wants more flexibility with creating part-time and temporary positions to meet service demand on evenings, weekends and at peak periods (namely Christmas), as well as the ability to reduce the full-time workforce and cut overtime pay from double time to 1.5.
In a union bulletin posted over the weekend, CUPW critiqued the “sub-inflation” wage increases for urban postal workers and pay inequity between urban and rural workers.
Over the four-year agreement urban carriers and processing plant employees would receive no increase in the first year and one per cent in each of the following years, as well as a lump sum payment of $1,200 for full-time workers and $600 for part-time workers.
Rural workers were offered no hourly wages, no lump sum and no cost of living allowance. The agreement also lacks job security and retiree benefits for rural carriers.
“We don’t want a strike or a lockout, but we don’t want rollbacks either,” said Edmonton local president Larry Dionne.
A demonstration by the Edmonton local of the CUPW is planned for Thursday, June 30 at 3:15 p.m. outside the Edmonton mail processing plant on 149 Street.
The St. Albert Gazette will still be available in the event of a mail disruption.
St. Albert, Morinville, and Cardiff will not be affected by a strike or lockout, since these areas are covered by door-to-door delivery by Gazette carriers.
However there are about 4,300 subscribers in Sturgeon County who receive the newspaper through Canada Post. If mail delivery is suspended, news boxes will be placed in strategic locations. A map will be available in ads and on the Gazette website.
“Unfortunately it is too large of an area to try and hand deliver papers to our rural readers,” said Evan Jamison, plant manager. “Although it won’t be as convenient as having the paper dropped in your mailbox, we believe that the locations we have chosen will still give readers easy access to a paper.”