Canada Post has turned down a last-minute request for an extension to contract negotiations made Tuesday by the union representing 50,000 postal workers.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) asked the Crown Corporation to consider extending a “cooling off” period that is currently set to expire on Saturday.
If the request had been granted, it would have given the parties an extra two weeks to come to an agreement and sign off on new contracts for both urban and rural postal workers before legal strike action or a lock-out could be initiated.
“We are asking management to give us a chance, to give the public review a chance, to keep sitting down with us at the bargaining table, and give the workers a chance to get a fair deal,” said Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, in a release.
But Canada Post said no way.
“Canada Post has been attempting to move the negotiations forward since December with little success,” said spokesperson Jon Hamilton on Wednesday morning.
“We also tabled offers on Saturday morning that are fair to our employees and customers and have yet to receive any formal response from CUPW. Given that, and the fact that any further delay will only add to the uncertainty for our customers and our employees, we cannot agree to further delays.”
There are now just two days left for the union and Canada Post to come to an agreement before a work stoppage could begin disrupting mail service across Canada. The negative impact of all the uncertainty is already being felt, Hamilton said.
News of Canada’s Post’s refusal was greeted with a frosty response from Palecek on Wednesday afternoon.
“They don’t really want to give us a chance to settle a deal,” he said in an updated release. “They want us out and they want the public to blame the postal workers for management’s decisions.”
Widespread strike action or lock-outs of 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.
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.