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Canada Post seeks holiday truce with striking workers

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Canada's postal service on Monday called for a truce with striking workers to avert a disastrous holiday season for online retailers that rely on the carrier to deliver their wares.

[OTTAWA] Canada's postal service on Monday called for a truce with striking workers to avert a disastrous holiday season for online retailers that rely on the carrier to deliver their wares.

But the union representing postal workers immediately shot down the idea.

The two sides have been in contract negotiations for nearly a year, with no success.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday major sales events just days away, Canada Post needs "urgently" to start reducing a massive delivery backlog if it hopes "to deliver the holidays to Canadians," its chair Jessica McDonald said in a statement.

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It gave the union until 5.00pm (2200 GMT) to respond to its proposal for a "cooling off period" through January in which the union would end rotating strikes and the two sides would resume mediation.

Mike Palecek, head of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, rejected the proposal, saying it "asks our members to go back to work at the heaviest and most stressful time of year, under the same conditions that produce the highest injury rate in the federal sector."

Rather it urged Canada Post to "negotiate a settlement now."

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, meanwhile, continued to press both sides to return to the bargaining table.

"Everyone is hurting and we expect everyone to work as hard as possible to get a deal," she told reporters outside the House of Commons.

The strike, now entering its fifth week, has resulted in a delivery backlog of up to 30 days, with hundreds of trailers waiting to be unloaded outside mail sorting facilities.

Last week, after the union rejected a previous offer, Canada Post issued a plea for the rest of the world to stop sending in mail.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is facing growing pressure from online retailers such as eBay to step in and legislate an end to the walkout.

Canada Post delivers two-thirds of the nation's online shopping and the last six weeks of the year are its busiest due to the holiday rush.

AFP