13 January 2012
Canada Post Update: Rural carriers have no contract, back-to-work challenge in works
OTTAWA—Canada Post's unionized rural and suburban mail carriers (RSMC) are now working without a contract, according to the postal union's spokeswoman.

Aalya Ahmad said about 7,000 carriers who deliver to boxes in communities outside major cities (e.g. Kanata and Orleans in the Ottawa area) had an eight-year contract that expired on Jan. 1 of this year.

While negotiations with Canada Post have just begun, there is no deadline for a new contract so far, she said.

"They've always had very inferior working conditions to the urban unit," said Ahmad of the rural/suburban carriers. "We're going for more [wage] equality, they do the same work."

A release about the RSMC negotiations states the collective agreement continues to apply after December 31, 2011. "Members should continue to ensure that their rights and benefits are respected by the employer," it reads.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) which also represents urban carrier staff is fighting back-to-work legislation used by the federal government following a Canada Post lockout last year. The union has retained constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo of Walkerton inquiry fame.

In a release regarding the fight against back-to-work legislation, Cavalluzzo noted, "Postal workers are doing the right thing, not only for their union but for other workers who may face being legislated in the future. Few employers will negotiate in good faith when they can count on extreme government intervention to bail them out."

He told Masthead the case "is in the early stages as we are collecting the union evidence which should be served shortly. As a result no hearing date has been set."

CUPW did not comment on what exactly this would mean if the union won the case against the back-to-work legislation.

In another development, Judge Coulter Osborne, the arbitrator appointed by the government to negotiate a new collective agreement for the union's urban workers, stepped down recently following a CUPW challenge that he had no prior labour relations experience and was unilingual. Ahmad said a new arbitrator is expected fairly soon.
— Jeff Hayward
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