The union representing Canadian postal workers has rejected a proposal from the Labour minister go to a binding arbitration in order to avert work disruption which was expected occur as early as this Friday.
The work stoppage was delayed, at least until Monday though when the Crown corporation decided to extend its lockout notice until Monday 12:01 a.m. eastern time.
“Postal workers have politely declined a suggestion from federal Minister of Labour MaryAnn Mihychuk to bring negotiations with Canada Post management to binding arbitration principle,” a statement from the Canadian Union of Postal Worker (CUPW) said. Their decision was a “matter of principle,” according to the statement.
The CUPW also said it filed a formal complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board. The union alleges that that Canada Post “failed to negotiate in good faith and is interfering with the Union’s right to represent its members,” as well also talking to individual union members and “making threats.”
Meanwhile, Canada Post said it is willing to go to a binding arbitration.
“While negotiated settlements are always the preferred option, it has become clear that after seven months of negotiations, the parties remain far apart on key issues at the bargaining table,” according to Canada Post. “The uncertainty caused by the prolonged negotiations is having a severe impact on the business, our employees and our customers.”
Canada Post said it was extending its earlier 72-hour lockout notice Monday in hopes that the union would consider submitting to binding arbitration as well.
The union is demanding that Canada Post create an hourly wage for rural and suburban mail carriers, 70 per cent of whom are women. They currently earn on average almost 30 per cent less than their mostly male counterparts in the larger urban unit.
The CUPW is also not in favour of a proposal by Canada Post to put new hires under a defined contribution pension plan. The union argues that such a plan does not provide guaranteed payouts. CUPW wants new hires to be provided with what current members have – a defined benefit plan which guarantees a fixed benefit regardless of investment returns.
“We appreciate the offer to help, but 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,” said Mike Palecek, CUPW national president.