Business

Postal workers' union refuses arbitration with Canada Post

Canada Post's largest union has rejected a proposal from the federal labour minister to undergo binding arbitration to avoid a potential work stoppage, but the threat of that work stoppage has been delayed — at least until Monday.

Crown corporation, union divided over wages and pensions

Canada Post has extended its lockout notice to Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Canada Post's largest union has rejected a proposal from the federal labour minister to undergo binding arbitration to avoid a potential work stoppage.

But the threat of that work stoppage has been delayed — at least until Monday.

Canada Post has extended its lockout notice to Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET and said it would be willing to submit to arbitration in an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute.

The deadline had initially been set for Friday.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said in a statement that it has "politely declined" the suggestion from Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk for binding arbitration, calling it a "matter of principle."

The union wants the Crown corporation to boost pay for suburban and rural mail carriers, who CUPW says are predominantly women.

"We appreciate the offer to help, but paying women equally for work of equal value is the law of the land; it's not something that can be awarded or withheld by an arbitrator," Mike Palecek, the national president of CUPW, said in a release.

He also told CBC News the union doesn't favour going to binding arbitration because a ruling could wind up going for judicial review and then be appealed.

Instead of going to arbitration, the union hopes to reach a negotiated settlement.

Canada Post said in a statement that it was prepared to go to binding arbitration as a way to reach "an acceptable resolution" for both sides.

The Crown corporation said the uncertainty caused by the ongoing impasse in negotiations is having a "severe impact" on business as e-commerce companies shift their shipping to private couriers.

Canada Post said the two sides "remain far apart on key issues" after seven months of negotiations.

Canada Post and the union remain at loggerheads on two big issues: CUPW's request for wage increases for rural mail carriers and the pension changes Canada Post says it needs to reduce costs.

The union is now accusing Canada Post of bargaining in bad faith.

CUPW says it filed a formal complaint Wednesday with the Canada Industrial Relations Board alleging that Canada Post has refused to negotiate on the offer the union tabled a week before the union was in a legal position to strike and the corporation in a legal position to lock out workers.

The complaint also alleges that managers have been "making threats and spreading disinformation" to union members.

A note on the union's website says the two sides met briefly Wednesday in the presence of mediators to discuss a range of issues, but there was no "major progress" made.

With files from CBC News

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