Canada Post Backs Off Threat To Lock Out Workers

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OTTAWA — There were signs of progress Sunday in a contract dispute between Canada Post and the union representing 50,000 of its workers as talks resumed and the post office withdrew a threat to lock out its workers.

Canada Post issued a brief statement that said it had withdrawn its lockout notice "which will allow both parties to focus their efforts on serious negotiations.''

"We are also expecting the union to honour their repeated public statements that they have no plans to issue a strike notice,'' it said. "Assurance from both parties that the postal system will remain open for business while we negotiate will provide the certainty that Canadians and our employees are looking for."

The Crown corporation's news release followed a statement earlier Sunday from Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, who encouraged the two sides to continue discussions beyond a deadline of 12:01 a.m. ET Monday that Canada Post had set.

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A Canada Post truck is parked at a sorting centre in Montreal on Friday. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

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

"I remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached by the parties.''

Canada Post initially served lockout notice to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for last Friday, but later delayed the notice until Monday.

"I remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached by the parties.''

The post office and the union were saying little Sunday, leaving the federal government to confirm the two sides were back at the negotiating table.

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

Negotiation has dragged on for seven months

The two sides have been negotiating over the last seven months, 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 says it wants to change its pension plan 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 payouts to 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.