More than a week after postal workers were forced back onto the job, Canada Post and its union aren’t negotiating at all.
Both sides are waiting for the federal government to appoint a mediator-arbitrator to resolve the labour dispute that had seen nearly six weeks of cross-Canada rotating strikes.
“We’ve asked the head of the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to give me a name as soon as possible,” federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu told Global News.
The letter to the CIRB went out a couple of days ago, and the government is waiting for the board to send them the name of a mediator-arbitrator.
In the meantime, there are no talks between the two sides.
“To my knowledge, they’re not negotiating,” said Hajdu.
Canada Post management and the union confirm that neither side has met in days.
“We have never left the bargaining table. All we need is a willing partner for this to be settled,” said Mike Palecek, the national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, in a statement to Global News.
Last Monday, the Senate passed Bill C-89, forcing unionized Canada Post employees back to work.
If the two sides could not agree on a mediator to solve the dispute, the federal government would appoint one who could impose binding arbitration.
While negotiations are stalled, the war of words continues over how much mail is stuck in the backlog caused by the rotating strikes.
According to Canada Post, close to 700 trailers of mail are waiting to be delivered — almost three times the level it was last year — and there are just three weeks until Christmas, says Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton.
The union disputes that claim, saying there is no backlog and pointing to testimony before a special sitting of the Senate in which Canada Post interim CEO Jessica McDonald stated that one million parcels constitutes a backlog.
“Last year, there were 67 days where postal workers delivered more than one million parcels in a day,” says Palecek.
“Heavy incoming volumes of parcels and continued illegal picketing is impacting our ability to keep up,” says Hamilton.
Picket lines have been set up outside Canada Post facilities in different parts of the country by non-CUPW demonstrators, blocking entrances at processing plants in Vancouver, Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto and slowing down delivery.
Canada Post says it has received injunctions in Alberta, Ontario, B.C. and Nova Scotia, but the delays continue.
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