CUPW and Canada Post reach tentative agreements for postal workers

Photo: OFL Communications Department/flickr

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The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Canada Post have tentatively agreed to new working conditions for Canada's posties.

The two parties announced last night two separate tentative agreements -- lasting two years -- had been drawn up for CUPW's 50,000 urban, and rural and suburban mail carriers, respectively.

The union, which had wanted one agreement for both its bargaining units, said in a statement that key bargaining points -- like the protection of its defined contribution benefit plan for current and future members -- had been secured.

"We did not achieve everything that we wanted but we did achieve the key points that were essential to us getting a negotiated settlement," CUPW stated.

Throughout 10 months of negotiations Canada Post had insisted a two-tier pension plan that placed all new hires on a defined contribution plan and reserved the defined benefit plan for current workers only, was needed to prevent pension plan costs from ballooning.

Early details of the tentative agreements, which will be put to union members for ratification in the coming weeks, show the union was also successful in staving off more closures of Canada Post outlets.

"We went into this round determined to achieve new collective agreements without rollbacks and we succeeded," CUPW said in a statement.

Despite this, its key objective of fixing the gendered pay inequity among its members at this round of bargaining has not been fully realized. The union has, however, managed to secure a review of the problematic pay structure, making some headway on the unequal pay scheme in place.

"We negotiated a pay equity review process that will not get tied up for decades in the courts," the union said in a statement.

"This pay equity process will be completed in 19 months and our RSMCs [rural suburban mail carriers] will know the results quickly."

According to CUPW's research, Canada Post's pay system -- which allocates compensation for suburban and rural workers according to the number of packages delivered -- disproportionately affects its female members. About 70 per cent of the rural and suburban group are women. On average, they earn nearly 30 per cent less than men in the urban unit for doing the same work, the union said previously.

Wage increases for rural and suburban workers -- which make up about 8,000 of CUPW's members -- stand at 1.5 per cent for this year, and 1.5 per cent for next year.

For the larger urban group -- which covers about 42,000 mail carriers -- a 1 per cent wage increase was agreed to for this year, followed by a 1.5 per cent increase next year.

Other key improvements for rural and suburban mail carriers include the recognition of seniority from the date of hire for workers who began before 2004, as well as the extension of the unit's health-care plan, ensuring RSMCs are entitled to the same paramedical services as their counterparts in the urban unit.

Canada Post said in a statement that the two-year agreements, which last for half the duration as previous collective agreements, "provide more time for thoughtful discussion and analysis on how to best address these issues without the ongoing threat of a work disruption."

"The issues facing the Corporation, with declining mail volumes and a growing pension obligation, are complex."

Since negotiations began, Canada Post has issued and withdrawn two lockout notices. The federal government also appointed two mediators to assist with negotiations at the end of last week, after CUPW's strike vote expired on Thursday and prompted the union to issue a 72-hour job action notice. Since Sunday night, CUPW has put off planned job action to enable negotiations to continue, culminating in last night's tentative agreements.

Teuila Fuatai was rabble's labour beat reporter for 2015-2016.

Photo: OFL Communications Department/flickr

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