The mail was still moving—slower than usual but at least a little faster than the protagonists. Across the country last week, 1,200 technicians remained on strike against Canada Post Corp. The two sides made a late-week decision to break a seven-day-old stalemate and resume negotiations on the weekend. But in the meantime, the two sides carried on a public debate about the impact of the three-weekold strike. Officials of the Crown corporation insisted that regular mail and special services were flowing smoothly. Said Canada Post spokesman Ida Irwin: “Major mailers are reporting no problems; the strike has had a very minor effect.” But a spokesman for the Union of Postal Communications disagreed. Said James Chorostecki on Wednesday: “I can guarantee you that you have mail sitting in the post office that should have been sorted and delivered last week.”
When the strike began on Aug. 24, the technicians walked out with 150 of their supervisors and 4,400 administrative and clerical staffers. The three groups belong to three different bargaining units within the 182,000-member Public Service Alliance of Canada and negotiate separately with Canada Post. The office workers and the supervisors settled, and most returned to work early last week. But the technicians, who maintain automatic mail sorters, rejected their tentative contract by a vote of 61.5 per cent—mainly because it did not cut the workweek to 37 V2 hours from the current 40 hours.
According to the supervisory technicians, Chorostecki said, only 20 per cent of regular mail was sorted on one day shift last week. Most recently, the remaining strikers concentrated on disrupting Priority Post, a highcost service that guarantees next-day delivery between major centres. But Irwin denied that the service had missed any deadlines.
And the two sides could not even agree on who had held up the return to the bargaining table. Irwin maintained that the union just had to ask for negotiations to resume and they would. But Chorostecki said that the union made just such a request and it was flatly turned down. And he predicted that, in the absence of a quick settlement, mail delivery will slow to a trickle.
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