Mail delivery in Canada could cease on Friday as Canadian postal workers have announced that they will walk off the job at midnight Thursday.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), the union representing the 48,000 mail carriers and inside postal workers, gave the required 72-hour strike notice earlier this morning.
“Striking is our only real bargaining lever with Canada Post and we have concluded that we must give notice that we are willing to use our legal right to strike to get a decent contract that meets the needs of our members and preserves public postal service,” said CUPW national president Denis Lemelin.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt released a statement indicating concern with the strike notice.
“Any work stoppage would impact Canada’s economic well-being. We are currently going through an economic recovery, which remains fragile,” Raitt said. “I remind the parties that the best solution in any dispute is one that the parties reach themselves. I therefore urge and encourage the parties to reach a negotiated agreement as soon as possible.”
CUPW says that members are rejecting Canada Post’s offer of reducing the starting wage rate for new employees by 22 per cent and putting them in a two-tier benefit plan.
The union also made a “last-ditch” offer to Canada Post to resolve the dispute. They are asking for a 3.3 per cent wage increase in the first year of the contract and a 2.75 per cent increase in each of the following three years of the contract.
Other key issues in the dispute are scheduling problems, forced overtime, delivery method problems and the integration of new technology.
While mail and parcels will not be delivered beginning next week, Canada Post has an agreement with the CUPW to continue delivering unemployment, welfare, pensions and other social-assistance cheques to Canadians.
The last postal strike took place in 1997 and shut down postal service for 14 days.
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