Postal workers back on strike in Kamloops as Ottawa hints at back-to-work legislation

There will be no mail delivery/collection in the Tournament Capital on Wednesday

The rotating postal strikes have returned to Kamloops, meaning there will be no mail delivery or collection on Wednesday, Nov. 21.

This is the third day local members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have walked the picket lines, having staged two days of strikes on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9.

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But the federal Liberal government may be on the cusp of legislating postal employees back to work.

The union and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreement since the deal for rural and suburban letter carriers covering 8,000 members, expired Dec. 31, 2017, and the contract with about 42,000 urban workers expired on Jan. 31, 2018.

Issues raised by the union include forced overtime, wages, working conditions, job security, service expansion and pay equity for its rural carriers.

On Wednesday, federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said her government has given the House of Commons notice it is prepared to legislate Canada Post employees back to work.

Hajdu said 48 hours' notice is required before introducing back-to-work legislation, but insisted that having done so doesn't mean the government will make the move to end rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

"We have complete flexibility about when we'll introduce that legislation," Hajdu told reporters before the Liberal caucus meeting on Wednesday morning.

The government has also re-appointed Morton Mitchnick as a special mediator in the labour battle and Hajdu said she will let him take the time he needs.

“We've given notice to the House, we are extremely serious, [but] I really don't want to have to use back-to-work legislation," Hajdu said. “But having said that, this is a really busy time of year, people are relying on Canada Post to deliver packages, small and medium-size businesses are relying on Canada Post to have a profitable season and our economy needs Canada Post to be able to function in a smooth way.”

On Monday, CUPW turned down an offer for a holiday cooling-off period and a possible $1,000 bonus for each of its 50,000 members, saying it would only mean postal employees continuing to work under the same conditions the union is trying to have changed.

Despite steady declines of between four and eight per cent per year, letter mail still provides the bulk of Canada Post's revenues. Last year, transactional mail pulled in $2.9 billion to make up 45 per cent of revenue, down from $3.2 billion (54 per cent) in 2011. Advertising, or direct marketing mail, makes up the other main segment for the service, at $1.1 billion in revenue last year.

Meanwhile, the union said Canada Post’s claims of mail backlog has been exaggerated.

The CUPW Toronto local reports that rather than the "hundreds of trailers" Canada Post reported, it has about 60, a backlog the union said can probably be cleared in a few days.

— with files from Canadian Press

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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