Postal workers table counter demands as strike looms at Canada Post

The Canada Post logo is seen on the outside the company's Pacific Processing Centre, in Richmond, B.C., on June 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OTTAWA - Canada Post and the union representing Canadian mail carriers remain miles apart in contract talks as a strike deadline looms less than two weeks away.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers posted its contract proposals on its website Friday, showing a demand for 3.5 per cent annual wage increases over the life of an agreement for both rural and urban postal workers. On September 7, Canada Post offered wage hikes of 1.5 per cent a year.

Postal workers will be in a legal strike position — and Canada Post could lock out its employees — as of Sept. 26 after CUPW's 42,000 urban members and 8,000 rural carriers voted in favour of job action to back contract demands.

CUPW also wants hourly pay rates for rural and suburban carriers equivalent to what urban letter carriers are paid, along with better job security and minimum guaranteed hours — proposals that the union said have so far been flatly rejected by Canada Post.

Where there might be room for agreement falls under the notion of expanding services at the Crown corporation.

The union wants Canada Post to offer financial or community banking services — something the post office provided decades ago — as well as expanded postal services for Indigenous communities and broadband internet.

CUPW said the latest proposal from the agency suggests it's prepared to offer customers a "selected set of new financial services," but offers no details of what those services would involve, and no timetable for when they might be launched.

A spokesman for Canada Post has said the company will not talk publicly about the contract talks, other than to say both sides are working to reach agreement with the aid of a third party. The talks have been ongoing since last year.

The union posted details of its latest contract proposals on its website Friday as bargaining wrapped up for the week.

Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu has encouraged both sides to continue negotiating toward collective agreements, with the help of a mediator, to avoid a work stoppage.