The lockout notice – due to come into force today (Friday, July 8) – has been extended by Canada Post as the federal Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk urged the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to settle with Canada Post through binding arbitration.
While Canada Post has accepted binding arbitration as a way to avoid a potential work stoppage and resolve the seven-month deadlock, the CUPW has rejected the offer.
The union wants the Crown corporation to boost pay for suburban and rural mail carriers, who CUPW says are predominantly women, and who earn around 30 per cent less than metro carriers.
“Paying women equally for work of equal value is the law of the land,” says Mike Palecek, national president of CUPW. “It's not something that can be awarded or withheld by an arbitrator."
The union wants a negotiated settlement over demands it refers to as “non negotiable”: wage increases for rural mail carriers and no reductions to the Canada Post pension scheme.
“Paying women equally for work of equal value is the law of the land. It's not something that can be awarded or withheld by an arbitrator." – CUPW
Palecek has told CBC News the union doesn't favour binding arbitration because a ruling could go for judicial review and be appealed.
CUPW says it filed a formal complaint Wednesday with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, in which it alleged Canada Post refused to negotiate on the offer the union tabled a week before the union was in a legal position to strike.
Meanwhile Canada Post’s business is at risk while it seeks a resolution to the seven-month stand-off. Canada Post said in a statement said the uncertainty caused by the ongoing dispute was having a "severe impact" on business as e-commerce companies moved their shipping to private couriers.
The two side sides are at stalemate on several issues which has created uncertainty not only among customers but also the employees: rural postal workers have been without a contract since the end of December 2015 while 42,000 urban workers have been without a contract since the end of January 2016.
The dispute has become increasingly intractable with Canada Post employees voting 90 per cent in favour of strike action and the Crown corporation being accused of union busting when it ceased its long term contract with a unionized temporary agency in favour of another contractor.
Roughly 60 workers, operating through Adecco at plants in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, had been hired to help with the customs processing for international parcels. The contract was changed to an different agency, because – claimed the CUPW – Canada Post could avoid working with unionized workers.
The dispute between Canada Post and its largest union has been extended over the weekend as the Crown corporation changes its lockout notice to Monday.