OTTAWA — Canada Post and its largest union have reached a tentative settlement, averting the prospect of job action this week at the postal service.
The tentative agreements must still be ratified by more than 50,000 postal workers across the country before they become new contracts.
"We can't give details of the agreements at this time, but we're pleased that our members don't have to resort to taking job action,'' Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said in a statement.
The negotiations were extended twice since the weekend, when a deadline expired on a 72-hour job action notice issued last Thursday by the postal union.
A postal worker walks past Canada Post trucks at a sorting centre in Montreal on July 8. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/CP)
Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said in a statement that the agreements were reached "voluntarily,'' but provided no other details about the deals themselves.
The two sides were in talks nearly around the clock at the request of a special mediator appointed Friday by Mihychuk.
"These tentative agreements, reached voluntarily by the parties, are an important reminder for us all that a fair and balanced collective bargaining process works and can achieve real results for Canadian workers and employers,'' said Mihychuk's statement.
A Canada Post truck. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/CP)
Canada Post described the tentative agreements as short-term. It said they are for two years and that four-year contracts were typically negotiated in the past.
"The agreements will avert a work disruption, bringing much-needed certainty in the postal system for our employees and customers,'' said Canada Post in a statement. "Canadians can now use the postal system with confidence.''
Canada Post also suggested the two-year deals would provide more time to look at how best to address some of the issues it faces — without the threat of a work disruption.
"We're at a point with the postal system where Canadians are using us differently,'' said Jon Hamilton, a spokesman for Canada Post. "We're trying to adjust the ongoing issues of declining mail volumes and increasing pension obligations continue. Those problems haven't gone away, but we need to continue to have those discussions without a threat of a work disruption.''
The tentative settlement was announced the same day that calls for direct federal government action in the matter had grown louder.
A Canada Post mailbox and post office. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had again been asked to get personally involved, this time by a group of prominent women from across the country who called on the prime minister to direct the Crown corporation to live up to its legal obligations on pay equity.
A day earlier, small businesses that rely on web-based sales were encouraged to write Trudeau and demand legislation to break the impasse.
The issue of differences in paycheques for rural mail carriers — most of whom are women — and urban letter carriers has been at the forefront of contract talks between Canada Post and its biggest union.
A Canada Post mailbox in Vancouver. (Photo: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
An open letter sent to the prime minister on Tuesday called on Trudeau — who is in China this week for a formal state visit — to keep his promise to support equal pay for work of equal value.
"We are asking you to use your influence to ensure that rural and suburban mail carriers achieve pay equity with (urban) letter carriers.''
Tuesday's letter was signed by 200 women primarily from English-speaking Canada, including actress Sarah Polley, author Naomi Klein and social activists Maude Barlow and Judy Rebick.
It is not known what the tentative agreements contain in regards to the pay equity issue.