OTTAWA– The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is calling on Canada Post to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a settlement now.
“We will not accept binding arbitration to resolve our issues with Canada Post. We have the right to collective bargaining and to settle this through negotiations,” says Mike Palecek, CUPW National President. “We are confident that an agreement can be reached, if only Canada Post would address the issues and stop looking for ways not to negotiate.”
This morning, Canada Post proposed a “cooling-off” period effective immediately and lasting through January 31, followed by binding arbitration if no settlement is reached by then.
“We aren’t doing this to harm the public, but the proposal asks our members to go back to work at the heaviest and most stressful time of year, under the same conditions that produce the highest injury rate in the federal sector. It asks women to continue to do work for free. How can we do that?”adds Palecek.
CUPW negotiators have proposed concrete solutions to the major issues – the injury crisis, gender inequality, overburdening and precarious work – which Canada Post has rejected.
“Canada Post should focus on delivering fair collective agreements. Our issues are ones that everyone out there will relate to,” continues Palecek. “Our members need to see their families at the end of the day, our RSMC members must be paid for all the hours that they work. We must be able to deliver Christmas without relying so heavily on precarious employment, without the highest rate of debilitating injuries,”says Palecek.
With no deal emerging from the weekend’s efforts, Canada Post is focusing on saving the holiday season deliveries that are so critical for retailers, charities and Canadians.
In a last-ditch effort to deliver the holidays, Canada Post has proposed to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) that the two parties work together through January during a cooling-off period that would immediately end rotating strikes, allow for mediation to resume and introduce a process to achieve a final resolution.
“With the rotating strikes, resulting backlogs, and the massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes that will arrive within days, we are trying everything we can to work together with the union – urgently – to deliver the holidays to Canadians,” says Jessica McDonald, Chair of the Board of Directors and Interim President and CEO of Canada Post. “This proposal also includes a way for the parties to resolve their differences and these negotiations.”
If CUPW ends its strikes, the Corporation could begin to reduce the massive existing backlogs that threaten the holiday season, which is critical for countless small businesses, retailers and charities. There is an urgent need for Canada Post to restore full operations. With hundreds of trailers loaded with parcels already backlogged at its facilities – and the growing repercussions for customers and the Canadian retail economy –this proposal is open for acceptance until 5:00 p.m. on November 19. After that time, Canada Post would lose its last window of opportunity to clear the backlogs before the oncoming wave of volumes reaches its facilities.
In an effort to restore full operations and deliver oncoming volumes, Canada Post is proposing:
A cooling-off period, effective immediately and lasting until January 31, 2019, which is past the holiday peak volumes, as well as high volumes driven by Boxing Day sales and the return of holiday purchases in January. During the cooling-off period, CUPW would not strike or take any other job action, and the Corporation would not lock out employees;
Immediately starting further mediation with a jointly-agreed, government-appointed mediator until the end of the cooling-off period;
A special payment of up to $1,000 for CUPW-represented employees that would be paid at the end of January if there is no labour disruption before the cooling-off period ends;
To reinstate both collective agreements with CUPW, including all employee benefits, for the duration of the cooling-off period;
If agreements have not been reached by January 31, the mediator would submit recommendations for settlement. If they are not adopted by the parties, binding arbitration would be introduced.
“Canada Post is making this proposal in a spirit of cooperation and in hope of delivering the holidays to Canadians and avoiding the significant financial and economic damage that would be felt if rotating strikes continued,” a CPC release said.
Meanwhile, Retail Council calls on parties to end the stoppages. sends letter to Prime Minister
In a letter sent on Friday the 18th to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (see below), Retail Council of Canada (RCC) called upon the Government of Canada to use its legislative powers to bring an end to strikes at Canada Post.
The strikes are entering their fifth week with no end in sight, a refusal by CUPW to present management’s proposal to members and a withdrawal by Canada Post Corporation of its latest offer at midnight Saturday. Backlogs are building, just as parcel volumes are poised to jump by 50 per cent or more with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday shopping. The one-two punch of backlogs and rapidly rising volumes puts at risk the year’s most important shopping period for consumers and retailers alike.
“There is a point at which it becomes clear that labour negotiations are at an impasse. We have reached that point, just as we arrive at a critical period for holiday shopping”, said Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “If we are going to save the holiday shopping season and ensure that Canadians don’t end up with a lump of coal, the Government of Canada needs to step in and end these strikes.”
Letter Sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
November 18, 2018
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, PC, MP
80 Wellington Street
I am writing on behalf of Canada’s retail industry to call upon the Government of Canada to bring an immediate end to the strikes at Canada Post, which directly impact the consumers we serve. Just as retail merchants, our workforce of two million and our customers enter the busiest time of year, the postal system is grinding to a near-halt.
Our industry has watched with growing concern as the strikes drag on into their fifth week next week, with no end in sight. While all businesses feel the impact of interrupted letter mail, consumers and the retail industry bear by far the greatest impact of interrupted parcel service.
The tipping-point for our members has arrived this weekend with CUPW’s refusal to put Canada Post Corporation’s latest offer to a vote and with the expiry of that offer at Midnight tonight. Despite assurances that “the parties remain at the table” and the appointment of a new mediator last month, there has been no progress to date and no prospect of any that we can discern.
Impact Thus Far
Canada Post has already publicly reported a backlog of thirty days with 600 trailers waiting to be unloaded and that backlog is mounting quickly even under the usual flow of e-commerce parcels. The situation has also prompted Canada Post to deter delivery of international postal shipments.
The situation threatens to deteriorate rapidly over the next few days and weeks. You will likely be aware that more than 25% of annual parcel shipments are sent during the two-month holiday seasoni and the majority of those within the three-week period following Black Friday, falling this year on November 23. A parcel flow that is already more than the system can handle is about to more than double in only a few days’ time. This is not simply a matter of a few days’ delay, itself a major source of concern in e-commerce, the fastest growing channel for shoppers.
Impact on Consumers
Canadians can no longer rely upon our nation’s postal service to deliver the goods that they need. 62 million+ packages are sent during the holiday season, the majority of which represent gifts to family and friends. Black Friday/Cyber Monday period has also become by far the most important period of the year for Canadians buying other goods that they require, from Winter clothing to appliances. This disruption and service failure to Canadians is our greatest concern. Help us save the holidays for Canadian consumers.
Impact on Businesses
We are already seeing swelling inventories, growing aversion to online purchases, and basket abandonment when customers realize that the shipping method would be via Canada Post. Alternative delivery services through couriers have nowhere near the capacity to handle the volumes that are moved by Canada Post.
Looking at the longer term, we are concerned about the potential consequences for e-commerce in Canada. The Canadian Government has been vocal in encouraging retail merchants to grow their online presence, making our industry more competitive and bringing significant investments in technology, distribution centres and high wage jobs in IT and design. If Canadians cannot have confidence that ecommerce is a reliable system, we are concerned that many will turn away from online shopping at precisely the moment when our systems are reaching viability.
Call to Action
On October 29, we wrote to Ministers Qualtrough and Hadju, noting our understanding that labour negotiations are complicated balancing acts. At that point, we expressed our hope that both parties would continue to negotiate, and jointly reach a solution that meets everyone’s needs. We warned however, that there are times during labour disputes where parties reach an impasse, and that should such a situation arise with Canada Post, the Federal Government should consider all the tools at its disposal, including back-to-work legislation.
With CUPW’s refusal to put Canada Post’s offer to a vote and with the expiry of that offer tonight, in the context of an already heavily-backlogged system and with parcel flows about to double, we believe that that point has been reached. Accordingly, we call upon the government to exercise its legislative powers to bring the strikes to an end.