Volume 91, Issue 47

Thursday, November 20, 1997

stars and strife


Postal union delivers strike

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

Despite efforts to avoid a province-wide postal strike, The Canadian Union of Postal Workers ordered all their members to begin striking yesterday evening and join those already on the picket line.

Union leader Darrell Tingley said that when Canada Post began laying workers off yesterday, the union decided it was time to send all members out to the picket lines and begin the strike.

"We were only adjusting workforce to meet the workload and not laying off workers," said spokesperson for Canada Post Jean-Maurice Filion. Workers were told they would be called back if the workload increased but then picketing began, he added.

Filion said Canada Post is hoping the strike will not go on for too long because business lost during the Christmas season could impact revenues for the rest of the year. "Our customers are being impacted and that's unfortunate," he added.

While a media black-out has been imposed, talks are still continuing, and Tingley said union members will continue to strike until a new contract is decided on and membership is recognized. The lift of a news black-out will also be decided during strike discussions but this decision is unlikely because of the constantly changing proposals.

Richard McLaren, a Western professor of law, said the action of a lock-out has two uses which include giving each side time to cool down and to gather public support in addition to making each party more willing to compromise because of economic injury done during this time.

Rather than working with an adversely and controversial system as this situation is, McLaren said a more advanced model taught at the law school are interest-based negotiations which doesn't focus on winning but rather at reaching mutual gains.

"The more enlightened employees and unions don't act in this way but this group is still working under a 1940s dinosaur system," he said.

Original demands by the union under consideration include the conversion of 1,500 part-time jobs to full-time positions, absolute job security for all employees and an over eight per cent wage increase over three years. Canada Post's last published proposal offered to convert 500 jobs with a three per cent increase over three years.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997