Canada’s postal workers edged closer to a strike after its main union filed a 72-hour job action notice as contract negotiations broke down.
Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, announced the move in a statement Thursday from Ottawa. The decision comes hours after the federal government asked Canada Post and the union to agree to the appointment of a special mediator. That was filed before the union’s window to file a job action ended at midnight.
“Our goal has been a negotiated collective agreement without service disruptions,” the union president said. “We are still willing to withdraw our notice if Canada Post agrees to an extension.”
The union said on Wednesday the discussions were at risk because Canada Post was seeking to fire up to 1,200 staff and increase pension contribution rates. The union has 54,000 members, including traditional Canada Post letter carriers, and other workers such as truck drivers.
Government-owned Canada Post said last week the union had refused binding arbitration and “shown no interest in addressing the fundamental issues that threaten the long-term future of the postal service.”
The postal service has struggled to make money in recent years as online communication grows in popularity and expanding suburbs stretch delivery routes. The previous government eliminated urban door-to-door delivery as a cost savings measure.
Canada Post made 8.9 billion deliveries according to its 2015 annual report. Mail deliveries have fallen every year since 2006 for a total decline per address of 39 percent.