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Government weighs intervention to end Canada postal strike

November 22, 1997

OTTAWA (AP) _ A top Canadian official held out the possibility Friday of government intervention to end a strike by the nation’s postal workers.

``As a government we have a responsibility,″ Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano said outside the Commons in Ottawa. ``I don’t exclude anything.″

He said the government would reassess its position on Monday.

The strike by 45,000 postal workers began Wednesday after dozens of wildcat walkouts had already crippled Canada Post, the federal mail service.

Gagliano’s comments came after Canada Post’s chief negotiator, Raymond Poirier, said in Hull, Quebec, that contract talks with the union representing the 45,000 striking workers had bogged down.

Poirier’s union counterpart, Philippe Arbour, said he was surprised by that characterization.

``Last night everything was positive and apparently this morning we were far apart,″ Arbour said.

Poirier acknowledged that progress had been made in the talks, but indicated both sides were still at odds over management’s proposal to restructure delivery routes as part of its five-year plan to save $140 million.

The union argues the cost-saving measures will lead to the elimination of 4,000 positions and pave the way for privatizing the postal service.

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