The union representing Canadian postal workers has dubbed last minute offers made last weekend by Canada Post “inadequate,” meaning the mail system could grind to a halt as early as this weekend.
If the Crown Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers can’t come to an agreement by Saturday, Canadians could be facing the fifth widespread disruption to mail delivery since the 1980s.
“The Global Offer of Canada Post contains many serious rollbacks and inadequate proposals,” the union said in a statement published on its website. “It fails to address many of our demands.”
WATCH: Canada Post may stop delivering mail if contract negotiations fail
Officially, there can be no legal work disruption until this Saturday, July 2. But the union’s membership has voted overwhelmingly (over 90 per cent) in support of strike action “if necessary to achieve our demands, stop the employer’s rollbacks and improve service to the public.”
If and when the situation does devolve into a strike or lock-out, Canadians may not be able to count on the federal government to step in.
Sending mail this week? Find out how early to ship it to make sure it doesn’t get stuck in the system by clicking here.
The Liberals have stated publicly that they will not interfere in labour disputes. Global News contacted the office of Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk on Monday to confirm that the government would not table back-to-work legislation. As of Tuesday afternoon, however, no response had been provided.
The Prime Minister’s Office referred requests for comment on the matter to Mihychuk.
The Progressive Conservatives legislated postal employees back to work under former prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1987 and again in 1991. Six years later, in 1997, another strike was ended by the Liberals under Jean Chrétien.
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The latest back-to-work legislation was tabled just five years ago by the Conservatives under former prime minister Stephen Harper. In April of this year, the postal workers union won a key legal victory when an Ontario court found that legislation was unconstitutional.
Eight-thousand rural postal workers have been without a contract since the end of December of 2015, while 42,000 urban workers have been without a contract since the end of January.
Bracing for the worst
Widespread strike action by the 50,000 employees represented by CUPW would shut down nearly all postal service, with the exception of welfare and pension cheques. Ottawa and the provincial governments have been bracing for the worst-case scenario for months.
“We understand the impact a work disruption would have on customers and are therefore doing everything possible to reach a negotiated settlement quickly,” Canada Post said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “While a labour disruption remains a possibility, we are asking customers to take precautions.”
Online retailers have also been putting contingency plans in place, as Canada Post ships two of every three parcels that Canadians order online.
You can sign up to receive email updates on the situation at Canadapost.ca/update.