Canada Post union overtime ban for workers in N.W.T., Alberta on hold for 24 hours

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is moving its overtime ban for its workers in the Northwest Territories and Alberta back 24 hours. It was originally set to kick in at midnight Sunday.

The proposed overtime ban has been put on hold for 24 hours

Canada Post management and unions representative are at loggerheads over a number of issues, including overtime. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says its plan to begin a rolling overtime ban at midnight Sunday has been placed on hold for 24 hours.

"We've amended our notice in a last-ditch effort to reach a negotiated agreement before we are forced to start working to rule," said Mike Palecek, national president of the CUPW in a release.

The union issued a 72-hour strike action notice Thursday, but said on Sunday it would be limited to an overtime ban. As the sun set on Sunday, the union pushed the overtime ban back, as well.

"Postal workers are more than ready to take action for pay equity, pensions and decent jobs if that's what it takes but we'll keep talking if there's a chance to settle this peacefully."

On Friday, lawyer and author William Kaplan was appointed to seek an end to the months-long labour dispute.

The union said it wants to assure Canadians the overtime ban won't affect mail delivery.

"We simply want to draw attention to our negotiation issues by asking our full-time members across the country to work only their scheduled hours," said Mike Palecek, national president of CUPW, in a press release. "Part-time members can still extend to eight hours but will not accept overtime.

"Our action will cause little to no disruption for the public."

If it goes into effect, CUPW said it will alternate its overtime ban between different provinces and territories each day.

Overtime is just one of the issues that have caused the negotiations to go on for so long. Two others of significance are pay equity for rural letter carriers, who are mainly female, with their urban counterparts, and Canada Post's pension plan.

Strike notice doesn't mean a strike

Aalya Ahmad, communications officer for CUPW, said even though the union issued a 72-hour notice of strike action Thursday, that doesn't necessarily mean workers were planning on striking. 

Ahmad said "notice of strike action" is legal language the union has to use when it wants to make a move during negotiations.

She said a "strike action" could be anything from literally striking, to wearing different clothes to prove a point, or to cutting overtime.

Ahmad said CUPW originally went with the overtime ban because they wanted to find some way to pressure Canada Post that was the "least disruptive" and that "most people [in the general public] won't notice."

'Completely unnecessary': Canada Post

Canada Post spokeswoman Jon Hamilton said like any other business, the company uses overtime when more people than usual are sick or on vacation at one given time.

He said the threat of the overtime ban is "completely unnecessary" and wouldn't pressure Canada Post to change something within the settlement that it doesn't want to change.

"We're not just going to sign on to buy labour peace," he said. "We will mediate and try and get a deal."

Hamilton said the union's threat to ban overtime simply made people "give pause," questioning if they want to continue using Canada Post's services.

"In the last few days, I've had everything from major customers saying they are going to be going to the competition and not putting anything in the postal system, to my mother-in-law asking whether or not it's safe to mail a birthday card.

"It makes everybody think twice before using the postal system, which is going to have an impact whether or not the union wants to admit that."

with files from Alyssa Mosher and The Canadian Press


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