With the holidays arriving, Canada Post is feeling the pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and parents to resolve the ongoing labour dispute in time for an important holiday tradition.
This holiday season, letters to Santa Claus have to be delivered by Dec. 10. But what if the strike continues until then?
Canada Post’s request to pause strike over holidays rejected by union
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is demanding improvements to job security, an end to forced overtime and better health and safety measures. But Canada Post has said it has made a number of offers that include increased wages and better job security.
With the two sides at a crossroads, many Canadian parents are left wondering if the tradition of children writing to Santa Claus is going to be stamped out.
Canada Post’s letter-writing program to Santa Claus has been around since 1981. Last year more than 1.6 million children wrote to Santa, which involved more than 260,000 hours of volunteer work, according to the Crown corporation.
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“We continue to operate through the rotating strikes and continue to process Santa’s letters,” Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said in an email to Global News. “We’ve also had volunteers at parades gathering the letters.”
“Parents should continue sending Santa letters from their children. Helping Santa with his letters is a longstanding tradition at Canada Post,” he said.
Kevin Matthews, a spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), also told Global News, “if the strike action continues as it is,” Canada Post workers would be able to volunteer with the program, but with delays in some cases.
Trudeau puts pressure on Canada Post ahead of holidays
Although Canada Post is reassuring parents about the Santa Claus letter program, the continuing rotating strikes have also created a historic backlog of undelivered mail since they started on Oct. 22.
This has prompted some businesses and the Trudeau government to issue pleas for a resolution ahead of the busy Christmas season.
The prime minister is giving indications that his patience is running out. Last week, he said his government might soon act to end the dispute if Canada Post and CUPW cannot settle the dispute.
On Saturday, he also took Twitter urging Canada Post and the union to settle the dispute.
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Trudeau isn’t the only one wanting both sides to resolve the issue. Many Canadians have taken to Twitter asking Canada Post if the ongoing strike will affect the letters to Santa program this year.
“The reindeer are on strike what’s Santa going to do?” Toronto artist and mother of two, Marjolyn Vanderhard, tweeted Monday.
Last year, Canada Post made changes to the Santa Claus letter program and stopped writing individual letters to children at school. Instead, the man in red now replies to the entire class with a large poster-sized letter that includes the names of all the children in the classroom.
Canada Post says Santa won’t write individual letters to school kids — here’s why
But if children still want a personalized reply from Santa, they can write to him from home.
Where does the strike stand?
On Monday, Canada Post asked CUPW for a “cooling-off” period until the end of January to allow for negotiations. That meant union members would have to put down their picket signs over the holidays while talks are on.
“With the rotating strikes, resulting backlogs, and the massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes that will arrive within days, we are trying everything we can to work together with the union — urgently — to deliver the holidays to Canadians,” Jessica McDonald, chair of the board of directors and interim president and CEO of Canada Post, said in a statement.
But the union quickly rejected the offer, saying it would not ask members to return to work under conditions that effectively have some employees working without compensation.
Canada Post workers also continued their rotating strikes Monday after rejecting the Crown agency’s latest offer and requesting the government appoint a mediator to help end the ongoing dispute.
— With files from the Canadian Press