Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay pressures Ottawa to end strikes

Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay pressures Ottawa to end strikes
Canada Post makes new offer to employees as eBay calls on Ottawa to end strikes
OTTAWA — Canada Post has issued what it calls a "time-limited" contract offer to its employees in hopes of ending rotating strikes that have created a historic backlog of undelivered parcels.

The offer Wednesday to members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers came just hours after online sales and auctioning giant eBay called on the federal government to legislate an end to the contract dispute.

“I encourage the government to explore all available legislative solutions to alleviate the current situation,” eBay’s general manager of Canada and Latin America operations, Andrea Stairs, wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough.

The Crown corporations four-year offer includes annual two per cent wage hikes, plus signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee.

Canada Post workers are walking the picket outside the huge sorting facility in Richmond today. Their job action continuing as both sides return to the negotiating table — even though the mediator's mandate expired this weekend. Neetu Garcha has the latest.

The proposal, which the agency said was worth roughly $650 million, also contains new job-security provisions, including for rural and suburban carriers who have complained about precarious employment, and a $10-million health-and-safety fund.

Continued rotating strikes at Canada Post will result in significant losses for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the country, Stairs warned, noting that smaller businesses are unable to negotiate lower shipping fees with other delivery services.

But Canada Post said the offer was only viable if it can be agreed to before the holiday shopping rush. It has imposed a deadline of Nov. 17 for Canadian Union of Postal Workers members to accept the deal.

The prime minister warned last week that his government would look at “all options” to bring the labour dispute to an end if there was no significant progress in Canada Post’s contract talks with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

"This measure is to ensure we can reach a just-in-time resolution and deliver for Canadians ahead of the holiday rush," the Crown corporation said in an email.

The eBay plea, contained in a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, came as the postal service said recent rotating strikes by its employees have resulted in a historic backlog of undelivered parcels and packages.

"The time limit is necessary as this offer is only affordable if we can clear the backlogs caused by the unions strike activity and effectively deliver the quickly arriving massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes."

The prime minister warned last week that his government would look at “all options” to bring the labour dispute to an end if there was no significant progress in Canada Post’s contract talks with the union.

CUPW said on its website late Wednesday that Canada Post "has made some movements towards addressing our key priorities, however, we have a long way to go to achieve a negotiated collective agreement."

Key issues missing from the offer include job security, pay for all hours worked and guaranteed minimum hours, the union said, adding that its national executive board would be meeting to discuss the next steps.

But Canada Post says it’s only affordable if it can be agreed to before the holiday shopping rush, so it has imposed a deadline of Saturday, Nov. 17 for Canadian Union of Postal Workers members to accept the deal.

Earlier in the day, the head of eBay Canada sent a letter to the prime minister late Tuesday, urging him to force an end to the labour dispute. Andrea Stairs, eBays general manager for Canada, also warned that quick action was needed to ensure retailers dont lose out on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

The $650-million proposal also includes new job-security provisions, including for rural and suburban carriers who have complained about precarious employment, and a $10-million health-and-safety fund.

"I encourage the government to explore all available legislative solutions to alleviate the current situation," Stairs wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough.

Canada Post has issued what it calls a “time-limited” contract offer to its employees in hopes of ending rotating strikes that have created a historic backlog of undelivered parcels.

Continued rotating strikes at Canada Post will result in significant losses for small and medium-sized businesses across the country, Stairs warned, noting that smaller firms are unable to negotiate lower shipping fees with other delivery services.

While many businesses have adapted as best they can to the strikes that began Oct. 22, Stairs said adjustments online sellers have made so far to avoid delivery disruptions are unsustainable.

While many businesses have adapted as best they can since the strikes began on Oct. 22, Stairs said adjustments online sellers have made so far to avoid delivery disruptions are unsustainable.

The Crown corporation’s four-year offer, provided to The Canadian Press, includes annual two-per-cent wage hikes, plus signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday are critical sales opportunities for Canadian small and micro retailers, particularly those that sell into the U.S. — the largest consumer market in the world," she wrote.

“Should the Canada Post service disruptions continue through this key retail moment, these SMBs will be seriously disadvantaged in competing for U.S. demand.”

"Should the Canada Post service disruptions continue through this key retail moment, these (smaller businesses) will be seriously disadvantaged in competing for U.S. demand."

“Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are major days for shopping discounts, tied to American Thanksgiving. This year, they’re Nov. 23 and 26.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are annual shopping days known for their deep discounts, fall this year on Nov. 23 and 26.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned last week that his government would look at "all options" to bring the Canada Post labour dispute to an end if there was no significant progress in contract talks. Trudeau did not elaborate on what actions could be taken, although the previous Conservative government passed legislation to end a two-week lockout of postal employees in 2011.

A spokeswoman for Hajdu said Wednesday the government recognizes Canadians and small businesses rely on the postal service, and encouraged corporate and union negotiators to keep talking.

"We urge both parties to reach a deal soon to reduce the impacts to Canadians, businesses, Canada Post and their workers," Veronique Simard wrote in an email.

Canada Post said Wednesday it was facing an unprecedented backlog of shipments and warned the situation could escalate quickly.

Postal union members picketed in Toronto on Tuesday for the third time in the past two weeks. The latest job action in Toronto was over by Wednesday morning, but the shutdown added to the backlog of items already waiting to be sorted and shipped, said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton.

"We have now surpassed 260 trailers of parcels and packets waiting to be unloaded," Hamilton wrote in an email, referring to the Gateway parcel processing plant in Toronto.

"The union just took down their pickets but we are backed up beyond anything weve ever seen in our history. With Toronto out on strike, we also missed two days of customer pickups, which will likely push that trailer total over 300 today."

The previous peak for backlogged trailers reached 220 during last years Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period, he said.

The union is negotiating contracts for 50,000 of its members in two divisions — urban carriers and rural and suburban workers. It said Tuesday that Canada Post had failed to address key issues, including health and safety, staffing levels and job security.

The two sides have been negotiating for almost a full year, with little success despite the assistance of government-appointed mediators.

Striking Canada Post workers at the South Central sorting facility in Toronto on Nov. 13, 2018. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada Post has issued what it calls a "time-limited" contract offer to its employees in the hope of ending rotating strikes that have created a historic backlog of undelivered parcels.

The offer came just hours after online sales and auctioning giant eBay called on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute.

The Crown corporation's four-year offer, provided to The Canadian Press, includes annual two-per-cent wage hikes, plus signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee.

The $650-million proposal also includes new job-security provisions, including for rural and suburban carriers who have complained about precarious employment, and a $10-million health and safety fund.

But Canada Post says the measures are only affordable if a deal can be agreed to before the holiday shopping rush, so it has imposed a deadline of Saturday, Nov. 17, for Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members to accept the deal.

CUPW spokesperson Emilie Tobin said late Wednesday afternoon that the union had just received the proposal.

"The negotiating committee is currently reviewing the offers and we won't have any comments until the review is complete," Tobin told CBC News via email.

The prime minister warned last week that his government would look at "all options" to bring the labour dispute to an end if there was no significant progress in Canada Post's contract talks with the union.

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