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It is time for Ottawa to step in to help resolve the Canada Post labour dispute.
A series of rotating strikes has disrupted the mail across Canada since October. For the two sides, a lot is at stake. Workers want the Crown corporation to address workloads, health and safety policy, gender equality and increase full-time jobs.
Canada Post has offered mediation but only if the union end its walkouts in a so-called cooling-off period until January. The union rejected that offer on Monday.
Online shopping has changed the game of Christmas for Canadians — and for postal workers who are now handling higher volumes of packages than ever before. This has added to the workload and magnified the problems around workplace safety.
But there is more at stake here than an elusive agreement between these two parties. Businesses, consumers and retailers are entering their busiest period, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday the main drivers for online shopping during the holiday season. Employees of online retailers such as eBay and Amazon will also feel the impact of a prolonged labour disruption.
But we don’t hear much about people — some are vulnerable and do not have online banking — who receive support cheques in the mail. They have a lot to lose if the strike goes on. Charities also receive many donations by mail during the Christmas season. The beneficiaries of their good works will also suffer if the stoppages do not end.
The holidays represent the postal union’s most important leverage. There is little time left to settle this dispute before it’s too late to have an effect.
At the moment, there is a backlog of 670 trailers full of unloaded parcels and undelivered mail. According to Canada Post, each trailer contains 2,500 packages. This represents a 30-day backlog. Canada Post has asked international partners in 190 countries to stop delivery of mail and parcels.
The Retail Council of Canada wants back-to-work legislation. The union wants a new mediator appointed. And Canadians want their holiday cards and packages.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has encouraged all sides to reach a settlement. He also said the government will take action if this does not happen, and that back-to-work legislation is on the table.
If the impasse cannot be ended through negotiation, then we support taking such measures for the greater good of Canadians and the economy.