Canada Post issued wide-ranging new contract offers to its employees Wednesday in the hope of preventing a work stoppage at the Crown corporation ahead of the busy holiday online shopping season, The Canadian Press has learned.
The offers included "improvements to pay and benefits, adding job security for rural and suburban employees and no changes to the existing defined benefit pension plan," the agency confirmed in an emailed statement.
"It also includes more certainty and opportunities for temporary and part-time workers," Canada Post said.
The proposals came after high-level talks were held over the weekend aimed at bridging an impasse in negotiations with the union representing 50,000 of its workers.
The talks had stalled in recent weeks, mainly over wages and working conditions.
Failure to reach agreements with the agency's 42,000 unionized urban carriers and 8,000 rural and suburban employees could result in a strike or lockout once a 72 hour notice period expires.
Any job action at Canada Post this time of year could threaten deliveries of packages to consumers who shop online. Canada Post said last year that it delivered about one million parcels per day during the holiday season – an increase of 20 per cent over the same period in 2016.
Canada Post said its new offers acknowledged a "rapid increase in the number of parcels" by including what it called "short and long-term measures to address the resulting workload issues for employees."
A spokesman for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers confirmed the union had received new proposals from the Crown corporation late Wednesday, but said the bargaining agents would need to analyze them before commenting.
The counter offers were issued more than two weeks after CUPW issued broad-ranging contract proposals of its own that included demands for 3.5 per cent annual wage hikes.
Canada Post had earlier offered wage increases of 1.5 per cent per year but did not provide details on it latest proposals.
The agency did say, however, that the new offer for rural and suburban carriers, known as RSMCs, "goes above and beyond the important changes made as a result of the recent pay equity ruling."
An arbitrator last month ordered Canada Post to give RSMCs pay increases of up to 25 per cent to settle a long-fought pay-equity dispute.
Not including added benefits that were part of the ruling, CUPW said the pay increase amounted to as much as $13,000 annually, retroactive to the beginning of 2016.
In bargaining for a new RSMC contract, CUPW had sought hourly pay rates for rural and suburban carriers equivalent to what urban letter carriers are paid, along with better job security and minimum guaranteed hours.
An initial Sept. 26 deadline for reaching agreements passed with no job action after the union said it would wait to see whether progress could be made at the bargaining table.
Postal workers have been without contracts since the beginning of the year.
The union has said it also hoped the latest round of bargaining would see agreements for both sets of workers combined into a single, new contract.
Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu has encouraged both sides to continue negotiating toward collective agreements, with the help of a mediator, to avoid a work stoppage.