Strike's in the mail
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
The event of a strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers may be unavoidable due to a breakdown in talks this past weekend with Canada Post and yesterday's midnight deadline for negotiation having come and gone.
Darrell Tingley, national president of the CUPW, said the union and its members have been talking for over seven months and are prepared to begin striking tomorrow if an agreement is not reached.
"There were a number of major issues on the table but [Canada Post] came with empty hands," he said.
The unions main demands include absolute job security for all postal employees, making the 1,500 part-time employees full-time, achieving an over eight per cent salary increase over 18 months and standing against 4,000 cuts to carrier jobs, Tingley said.
The statistics the union has been using with regard to a loss of 4,000 carrier jobs are really to grab attention and are attractive but misleading, said Ida Irwin, spokesperson of Canada Post. They plan to reduce employees through natural attrition, by matching surplus workers with empty positions and offering volunteer buy-outs.
In a global report submitted to the union on Sept. 15 by Canada Post, CUPW was offered a three per cent increase over two years, changing 500 positions from part-time to full-time and retaining absolute job security, Irwin said.
"We are trying to work smarter with fewer people and since unions work through union dues, they are scared of losing money," Irwin said. "They are losing their bread and butter."
The decision to strike came last Thursday after a report by the Minister of Labour, Lawrence MacAulay, was unnecessarily delayed, Tingley said. The report should have come out on Nov. 5, allowing the union to strike legally, he added.
John Caines, a spokesperson for Canada Post, said since the Minister's report only came out Monday, the union must wait seven days after this before achieving legal strike status. This will not happen if CUPW begins striking tomorrow.
Canada Post refuses to enter into any more talks until CUPW decides to change their position on the issues, Caines said. "We don't believe this strike is necessary and have offered the union every option."
Maryam Siddiqi, a postal clerk in the University Community Centre, said customers have already begun asking questions because graduate school applications will be due soon.
Susan Bortot, public relations supervisor for the United Parcel Service, said they do anticipate an increase in service if the strike goes ahead but still plan to keep existing customers happy.
"The more business we lose the less employees we will need," Caines said. "It's about time the unions realized this."