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'Movement' between Canada Post and union in shadow of lockout threat

A Canada Post employee drives a mail truck through downtown Halifax on Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
July 10, 2016 - 4:30 PM

OTTAWA - Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers were talking again Sunday in hopes of reaching a deal in the face of a management lockout threat.

But there was a dearth of specifics as both sides pressed on at the bargaining table, saying little and leaving the federal government to offer scant reassurances as the possible deadline for a work stoppage was inching closer.

The union faced a threat of being locked out by their employer. Canada Post gave a lockout notice to 50,000 of its unionized workers last week but has already pushed back its deadline once from Friday to 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time Monday, July 11.

Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk urged the two sides on Sunday to continue taking beyond the midnight deadline, if necessary.

"I am pleased that there has been movement at the bargaining table and that progress is being made," the minister said in a statement.

She reiterated that the government has contingency plans in place to continue to provide services in the event of a work stoppage.

"I remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached by the parties," she added.

Neither side felt the need to add anything further as their talks stretched well into Sunday afternoon.

A Canada Post spokesman did not provide any clarity about whether the post office will act on its lockout threat. The Crown corporation has complained repeatedly about the uncertainty to customers caused by the possibility of a strike by its workers.

The union also declined a request for comment on the continued talks.

If a work stoppage was to take place, the postal service would stop accepting new packages, and any mail or parcels in the system would be stuck there until there is a resolution.

Government benefit cheques such as old age security and Canada Pension Plan payments would still be delivered on the 20th of the month, but items such as municipal hydro and water bills would not.

Talks have been deadlocked on the issues of employee pension plans and wage parity.

The two sides have held seven months of negotiations, including 60 days of conciliation talks and more than 30 days with federal mediators.

The union wants changes in how rural and suburban mail carriers are paid. They want to be paid by the hour, like urban letter carriers, not by how many packages they deliver.

Canada Post wants to change its pension scheme to bring it in line with the private sector. It wants new employees to be covered under a defined contribution plan instead of a defined benefit plan.

Defined contribution plans reduce costs for companies and shift the risk for future pay outs onto employees, who are no longer guaranteed a set payment in retirement.

The pension proposal is being closely watched by other public sector unions, which will also be entering into future talks with the government.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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