The expiration of the contract covering Canada Post workers came and went at midnight without a nationwide strike, but with the union calling for the appointment of a mediator.
According to press reports in Canada, the idea of a mediator is not new; two have been appointed previously but failed to bridge the divide between Canada Post, which is a government-owned but separately-governed Crown Corporation. The signs of that failure are in the rolling strikes that have his various parts of the country in recent weeks.
In a release Saturday, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers also laid out the details of its counteroffer to Canada Post. The specificity in the CUPW release is unusual; unions rarely spell out what they want in such detail (nor do managements, to be fair).
The counteroffer requests the following:
Annual wage increases of 2.9%, retroactive to January 1, with a cost of living allowance as well. The Canada Post offer is for four years. But rather than tying the COLA to a general rate of inflation, the union wants it to be based on "activity values based on the letter carrier rate of pay." Press reports say Canada Post is calling for annual increases of 2%.
Pay for all hours worked, including overtime. It isn't clear how workers now are not getting paid for hours worked.
"Paid at double time for all hours worked on your 6th and 7th day of the week. Weekend work will be offered by equal opportunity." The reference to weekend work is not surprising given the union's earlier complaints that the volume of parcels driving by ecommerce is creating long days and weeks for the postal workers.
"All straight time hours worked up to 8 hours per day to be pensionable."
"Entitlement to post-retirement benefit plans with eligibility based on continuous service."
"CPC to maximize routes to 8 hours per day wherever possible." This too appears to be tied to the complaints about long days tied to ecommerce deliveries.
"Job security for all regular employees…with 5 years of continuous service."
"No contracting out and protection of RSMC delivery areas."
"Pay for injury on duty to be at 80% and paid by Canada Post."
"Improvements to the Short Term Disability Plan (STDP) including a better appeal process, unlimited carry-over of unused personal days and increase the pay from 70% to 75%. PREs to receive pay based on their last 52 weeks or the route they are covering whichever is greater."
"CPC to provide coverage for all absences."
"Protection for victims of domestic violence in our collective agreement."
But that isn't all; as the union said there are "many other demands included in our global offer."
Canada Post earlier in the week made an offer, with the union saying the proposal "made some movements towards addressing our key priorities." But it also said there is a "long way to go to achieve a negotiated collective agreement."
(From a FreightWaves story of 11/17:) Piles of parcels have been building throughout the country during the rolling walkouts. Among other areas, strikes have hit the cities of Edmonton, Victoria, Saint John and parts of the province of Manitoba.
E-commerce is part of the dispute, because Canada's postal workers are delivering a greater quantity of parcels than historically because of the shift in consumer buying patterns. The CBC quoted union president Mike Palecek as saying that employees are overworked and walking up to 30 km—18+ miles—per day making deliveries.
Canada Post reported that the walkouts this week have left more than 600 trailers sitting outside of various facilities through the country, which the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called a record. Each trailer contains approximately 2,500 parcels, according to a Canada Post spokesman quoted by CBC. News reports said Canada Post had dropped its delivery-time guarantees earlier in the week, and said the backlog was 30 days.
Numerous interested parties have been calling for the Canadian government to step in and take some action to stop the rolling strikes or an even larger disruption. The government of Prime Minister Trudeau has been coy about its plans, other than urging the two sides to settle their differences.