The National Executive Board (NEB) has decided to put the tentative collective agreement to a vote of the membership. If the membership supports the NEB recommendation, the changes will be incorporated into the collective agreement, which will remain in force until December 31, 2015 or until the parties obtain the right to lockout or strike. If the membership does not ratify the tentative agreement, the NEB will decide our course of action.
After many frustrating months we have reached the point where we believe it is appropriate to put the decision into the hands of the membership. We are supporting this agreement not only because it contains some significant improvements, but also because we are aware of the level of uncertainty that exists in collective bargaining in the federal sector. Considering the experience of other unions in the rail and airline sectors, and also the experience of the CUPW urban operations unit, we believe there is no guarantee of success if we pursue the conciliation/strike route at this time. The anti-labour bias of the Harper government has only served to reinforce the hardline that has been taken by Canada Post management during the entire length of negotiations.
This tentative agreement represents only the second collective agreement in the history of the Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers, and the first negotiation with the right to strike. We share the disappointment of many members that this agreement does not obtain full equity with members of the urban operations unit. We remain determined to achieve equal wages, equal paid rest periods and meal periods, equal benefits and all other provisions that are necessary to ensure all postal workers are treated with respect and dignity. We also recognize that this agreement contains some positive steps forward. The Extended Health Care Plan, uniforms, extending the disability insurance to two years and the establishment of permanent relief are very important advances achieved in a difficult bargaining climate.
While we recognize that many workers will be red circled and receive only lump sum payments, we also acknowledge that the agreement provides substantial wage increases for the lower paid workers. These increases and the introduction of the activity-based compensation model will bring greater equality amongst RSMCs. These are in addition to many other important changes listed in this tabloid.
We ask that all members to carefully review the tentative agreement. On balance, after considering all of the factors, we believe that accepting the tentative agreement is the best course of action at this time.