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Canadian Postal Talks Turn Hopeful

November 21, 1997

HULL, Quebec (AP) _ The union representing striking Canadian postal workers said Thursday that agreement on a new labor contract was within reach.

About 45,000 postal workers went on strike Wednesday, shutting down mail service across the country after weeks of fruitless contract bargaining.

Representatives of Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers resumed negotiations almost immediately after the strike was called.

Both sides expressed optimism Thursday that a deal on a new contract was near.

``What I say right now is we’re not so far apart,″ said Philippe Arbour, chief negotiator for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

A spokesman for Canada Post also said progress had been made in the talks. ``There’s enough there to get a deal,″ John Caines said.

Postal officials want 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. It also says Canada Post is preparing to privatize the corporation.

The union originally was seeking a raise of 8.6 percent over 18 months, but has since said it is willing to settle for less.

The corporation has offered 3 percent over two years. Letter carriers and postal clerks earn a base salary of about $12.50 an hour.

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