Canada Post says contract negotiations with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have reached an impasse, and appears to be bracing for strike action from thousands of its employees next week.
Mail service could grind to a halt at any point between this weekend and the following weekend. The union’s strike mandate expires on Thursday, Aug. 25, so if it does choose to give 72-hours notice, it must do so on or before that date.
Following nine months of negotiations … it is clear that talks have reached an impasse,” read a statement released by the Crown corporation Wednesday evening.
“The union has unfortunately shown no interest in addressing the fundamental issues that threaten the long-term future of the postal service.”
The union, meanwhile, says Canada Post is turning a profit and that the demands workers are making with regards to both pensions and pay equity for urban and rural workers are reasonable.
Earlier this week, the union proposed that instead of going back to its membership to seek a fresh strike mandate that would last another 60 days, the two sides could agree to allow the mandate to be extended indefinitely as negotiations continue.
Canada Post rejected that suggestion on Wednesday, calling it “unprecedented” and “completely inappropriate.”
“It would only provide further uncertainty for employees and Canadians,” the release said.
The union responded with its own strongly worded statement.
“What is Canada Post waiting for? Are they content to sit back and see what we will do on August 25? Do they want us to take some form of strike action so that they can then lock us out? Do they want negotiated collective agreements, or do they want to battle this out?”
Amid the competing statements and threats of a work stoppage, Canada Post is gearing up for its annual public meeting, scheduled to take place Friday morning in Ottawa.
Union president Mike Palecek and other labour representatives say they will be there to “confront” Canada Post’s “elusive” president and CEO, Deepak Chopra.
The federal government, meanwhile, has taken a hands-off approach to the ongoing labour dispute. In the past, federal governments have imposed binding arbitration to settle deadlocked negotiations between Canada Post and CUPW.
In the case of a strike or lock-out, back-to-work legislation has also been passed.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised repeatedly to respect the role played by unions, and Palecek said he expects the Liberal government to uphold their constitutional right to collective bargaining.