Postal workers in Canada are delivering parcels seven days a week to ensure they will be in time for the holidays, says Canada Post’s largest union.
Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), said in an email on Monday that union members are working every day of the week following weeks of rotating strikes across the country. The union was legislated back to work on Nov. 27.
Palecek said the union cannot confirm a claim made by Canada Post in a statement on Saturday that the company has a backlog of six million parcels. Canada Post has said it cannot guarantee packages will be delivered in time for the holidays because of the backlog.
“If a six-million parcel backlog exists, it has nothing to do with CUPW rotating strikes, and sounds more like poor planning from Canada Post to deliver the holidays,” he said.
Minister names mediator-arbitrator
In a statement on its website on Monday, the union said federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu has appointed Elizabeth MacPherson as mediator-arbitrator in the dispute. The government indicated in legislation that it would do so.
“Your negotiating committee did everything possible to avoid this legislation,” the union said.
“However, because of the legislation, we will work with the mediator-arbitrator to attempt to negotiate good collective agreements and avoid arbitration. We believe in our right to free collective bargaining but we will reluctantly participate in this legislated process.”
Palecek said CUPW negotiators are still at a downtown hotel in Ottawa, where they have been since July, to work out collective agreements for their members.
Canada Post negotiators leave, union says
He said Canada Post negotiators have left the premises.
“Canada Post moved out of the hotel over the weekend, giving us the impression that they have given up on collective bargaining and will simply wait for the arbitrator-mediator to impose agreements on our members,” he said.
“CUPW remains fully committed to achieving negotiated settlements that ensure the health and safety of our members and equality for all workers.”
Since the strikes officially ended, protests have taken place outside some Canada Post facilities. Palecek said the pickets have been organized by other unions in support of postal workers.
“CUPW has not organized any pickets. Our members are back at work. We do not know when or where our allies may demonstrate solidarity with postal workers being legislated back to work,” he said.
Inventory nearly triple last year’s
On Saturday, Canada Post said in a statement that the backlogged parcels are in postal yards and off-site locations across the country.
“Our employees are doing excellent work, but backlogs and heavy incoming volumes of parcels and continued illegal picketing is impacting our ability to keep up,” the corporation said.
“Our inventory is almost three times the level it was last year, with only three weeks until Christmas.”
It said parcel deliveries are continuing but will be delayed during the holiday season and into January.
Canada Post said there are delays of up to several weeks for parcels arriving from other countries, with the delays expected to diminish throughout December, and there may be “modest delays” for some parcels leaving Canada for other countries.
As for letter mail, the corporation said the backlog should be cleared and deliveries made in time for Christmas.
According to CUPW, the union wants better pay and job security, guaranteed hours for its 8,000 rural and suburban carriers, and equality for those workers with the corporation’s 42,000 urban employees. It also wants Canada Post to adopt rules that would address workplace injuries.