UPDATE — Canada Post Issues 72-Hour Lockout Notice

Canada Post has issued a 72-hour lockout notice to its 50,000 postal workers.

In a release issued early this morning, the Crown corporation outlined plans to suspend the collective agreement as of Friday, citing prolonged negotiations, the union’s strike mandate and the financial cost of a rapid decline in mail volume.

Canada Post says the notice does not necessarily mean mail service will shut down on Friday, but rather the measure would allow it to, “Take measures that are necessary to respond to the changing business reality.”

CUPW says the corporation is using the lockout notice to drive 50,000 workers “out onto the streets without pay in an effort to impose steep concessions on them.”

The corporation says the sticking point is pensions, but local CUPW representative Craig Dyer says the pension plan is in good shape.

He says there is $19-billion in the fund, and the corporation is complaining that they have a $1.2-billion dollar.

He says the sovereignty fund is $6-billion in the hole, but he calls it a “paper test” and if Canada Post closed down tomorrow, and laid off all its workers, it may be an issue, but the union is willing to sit down and find a solution.

He says they don’t understand why the corporation is claiming that “the sky is falling.”

Dyer says the union is willing to return to the table but they’re accusing Canada Post of bargaining in bad faith.

The head of the Canadian Postal Workers Union wasn’t pulling any punches when he held a media briefing in Ottawa this morning.

Mike Palacek says the union is dealing with a bully boss that doesn’t believe in pay equity.

Palacek says while the corporation maintains the sticking point is proposed changes to employee pension plans, he says the real issue is pay equity for rural carriers.

He says women make up most of the rural and suburban mail carriers in the country and they’re paid 28 percent less than their male counterparts in urban operations doing the same job.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is encouraging both sides in the postal dispute to find a solution to their growing pension problem.

The CFIB has issued a letter to Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra calling for a settlement, but stressing that unfunded liabilities in the pension plan are not a trivial issue.

The business group says pension costs must be lowered to ensure plans are sustainable and don’t force rate hikes or service cuts to customers.

CFIB President Dan Kelly says taxpayers and Canada Post customers can no longer afford to pay for “gold plated pensions”.