Postal dispute reaches crucial juncture

Postal dispute reaches crucial juncture

The month-long conflict in Canada threatens to disrupt the holiday shopping rush.

PM Justin Trudeau has said his government is willing to order an end to rotating strikes by Canadian mail workers as retailers fear the dispute will disrupt the holiday shopping rush that begins after Thanksgiving in the US.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUWP) rejected Canada Post’s “last ditch” offer Monday which had called for a temporary return to work during the busy holiday season. The Retail Council of Canada, meanwhile, has been pressuring Trudeau to end the strike with the number of packages and letters to be sent expected to double.

The CUWP subsequently announced rotating strikes across the country beginning October 22 after failing to reach an agreement over compensation pay with Canada Post following year-long negotiations. Each strike is meant to last only 24 hours per city, with different strike locations on rotation.

Yet the ongoing action has caused a month-long backlog of undelivered packages and mail.

The Trudeau government had indicated Monday it was willing to give Canada Post more time to settle a labor dispute with its employees despite the pressure from business, yet within twenty-four hours, his government would take a stronger stance.

“We strongly encourage both sides to reach a deal and are prepared to table legislation if we do not see a resolution over the next few days, a step we do not take lightly,” said Labor Minister Patty Hajdu.

Justin Trudeau has long steered away from getting involved in federal labor disputes and has never tabled back-to-work legislation. But Ian Lee, an associate professor at Carleton University Sprott School of Business, told Canada’s Global News that this time could be different.

“I think it’s not only possible but probable that he will use it,” he said. “Trudeau has said he is not going to do what Harper did [who tabled back-to-work legislation with Canada Post in 2011], but that is false. Every prime minister who was in for a period of time has used it.”


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