More than 1,000 Canada Post workers protested Saturday in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Papineau riding office in Montreal in an effort to kick start stalled negotiations over a new collective agreement.
The protest began around 1 p.m. at Saint-Alphonse Park, near the intersection St. Denis Street and Crémazie Boulevard, before making its way to Trudeau’s office.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is accusing the Crown corporation of dragging its heels in the negotiations.
“It’s moving forward very slowly, and there has been no response on the important issues,” Lise-Lyne Gélineau, president of the union’s Montreal chapter. “That’s why we’re addressing the prime minister.”
Federal mediators trying to assist
The federal government said Saturday it supports a fair and balanced collective bargaining process, and that it is trying to bring the two sides closer together.
“We believe workers have the right to express their points of view through various peaceful means, such as this rally,” a government spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“Federal mediators have been assisting the parties throughout their negotiations, and continue to do.”
The union wants higher wages, particularly for rural workers, and is opposed to proposed changes to the pension plan. Workers are also looking for an expansion of services in package delivery and banking.
Management has warned the union its demands could cost as much as $1 billion. Union members argue that Canada Post has been the source of more than $1 billion in government revenues over the past 20 years.
In July, Canada Post issued a lockout notice to workers, which was later withdrawn when the two sides returned to the bargaining table.
But since then little progress has been made on keys issues like pension plans and pay equity, Gélineau said.
She said the Trudeau government advocates for gender equality and pension plan improvements and should hold Canada Post to the same standard.
The CUPW says the Crown corporation refuses to enforce laws on pay equity and instead wants to increase precarious employment.
They fear the lockout threat could resurface if no agreement is reached by late August.