Postal service continued Friday, as both sides made last ditch efforts to resolve seven months of failed negotiations.
As of press time, it was not known if the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which had proposed an extra 30 days for cooling off and negotiations on Friday, would agree to a counter-proposal from Canada Post.
Canada Post said in a news release that it was agreeable to a 30-day extension as long as the union agreed to binding arbitration if no agreement was reached during that time.
Prior to the extension proposals, Canada Post extended its lockout notice to Monday at 12:01 a.m., in order to give the Canadian Union of Postal Workers time to consider binding arbitration, after announcing it would be willing to submit to third-party mediation in an effort to avoid a potential work stoppage.
CUPW on the other hand rejected the proposal by the federal labour minister. The union prefers to reach a negotiated settlement.
The initial cooling off period ended July 2, at which point either party was able to call for a strike or a lockout. It also allowed Canada Post to dissolve the terms of the current agreement and suspend employee benefits, which it announced it would do through a 72-hour lockout notice filed Tuesday.
The extended cooling off period would maintain the terms of the current agreement, including benefits for 50,000 employees.
“Instead of negotiating with us fairly, this profitable crown corporation has been busy scaring businesses and the public off with these threats of labour strife,” said CUPW president Mike Palecek. “They need to give that a rest and get back to the table with us.”
In a statement earlier this week Canada Post said it has lost 75 per cent from ecommerce customers and that letter mail was down 50 per cent.
As “a sign of good faith,” the union has offered to drop an unfair labour practices complaint if Canada Post agrees to sit down to another period of “intense negotiations.”
The sticking point for the union is less secure pensions for new workers and pay equity for its predominantly female rural mail carriers, who according to CUPW make up to 28 per cent less than their urban (and mostly male) counterparts.
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 lockout, or a strike, since these areas are covered by door-to-door delivery by newspaper 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 at strategic locations. A map is available on the Gazette website at stalbertgazette.com/distribution.
There are a small number of national subscribers who won’t be able to receive the paper if there is a disruption. An e-edition of the Gazette is available online.