A Canada Post work stoppage again looks likely.
A tentative agreement between Canada Post and the union representing 50,000 Canadian postal workers fell apart late Friday. The union had proposed to implement a 30-day “cooling-off” period accompanied by intense negotiations in an effort to avoid a lock-out or strike action.
Canada Post agreed, but only on condition that the two parties go to binding arbitration after – a counter-proposal the union rejected.
The two parties have been hurtling toward a work stoppage for the past several weeks, with both sides seemingly refusing to budge on key contract issues. Canada Post has been poised to lock out its workers as early as Monday.
On Friday morning, however, it seemed progress was being made as the Canadian Union of Postal Workers issued a statement asking for a reprieve.
“Our members, their families and all Canadians do not deserve to have this threat of a lockout ‘looming’ over our heads from a profitable public service,” said Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, in the release.
“Postal workers want to work and people need to know that it’s safe to use the mail system.”
WATCH: Canada Post extending lockout notice from Friday night to early Monday
The union said it was prepared to engage in “intensive negotiations” with Canada Post during the cooling-off period, and would drop a labour practices complaint against the Crown corporation that it launched two days ago as a sign of “good faith.”
Just after noon, Canada Post agreed.
“We are fully prepared to negotiate intensively for the next 30 days under an extended ‘cooling off period’ to reach negotiated settlements,” the corporation said in a statement. “However, if the parties are unable to successfully conclude negotiations within that period, both parties must agree to binding arbitration.”
Late Friday afternoon, the union rejected that condition.
Canada Post had agreed earlier in the week to an offer from the labour minister for binding arbitration to help settle the outstanding contract issues, but the union refused to allow an arbitrator to step in.
As recently as Thursday, the two sides appeared to be far apart on several major issues after seven months of negotiations. Some postal workers have been without a contract since late 2015, while others have been without one since January 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government would not be intervening in the dispute with back-to-work legislation, should there be a lockout or strike.