On April 4, 2016 Canada Post advised the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) that it had filed Notices of Dispute with the Minister of Labour in ongoing negotiations with CUPW-Urban and Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC). These notices ask the Minister to appoint a conciliator in each negotiation.
This move is in keeping with the process for requesting conciliation assistance through the Minister of Labour established by the Canada Labour Code, but nonetheless it was unusual that Canada Post would make the request so early in the negotiation process.
In a release Canada Post explained the reasoning behind the request as follows: “We are taking this step because while the parties have been meeting since late 2015, we are not seeing progress on key issues. In both cases, we hope that a neutral party can stimulate constructive discussion and accelerate the negotiations process.
“We remain fully committed to negotiating new collective agreements that are fair for our employees while also reflecting the changing nature of our business and needs of our customers.”
Just over three weeks later, on April 28th Ontario Superior Court Justice Firestone ruled that the former Conservative government violated its members’ freedom of association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sections 2d) and 2b) by legislating them back to work on June 26, 2011 and that the legislation was “unconstitutional and of no force and effect.”
“Let this be a warning to Deepak Chopra and his 22 vice presidents that the legislation trick won’t work this time,” said Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, in a release. “CUPW is currently in negotiations and Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra, who shut Canada Post’s doors nation-wide and locked out the postal workers in 2011, remains at the helm. The Crown corporation management has applied for conciliation and refuses to entertain any of the postal workers’ demands for improved services and an end to concessions.
“Canada Post is already trying to push things by starting the countdown to a lockout. This time, they won’t be able to count on the government to make it easy for them,” said Palecek.
The collective agreement between Canada Post and CUPW-RSMC expired December 31, 2015. The collective agreement with CUPW-Urban expired January 31, 2016. For now, the terms and conditions of both agreements continue to apply.