During the term of the collective agreement, the parties must have discussions with a view to defining commonalities and solutions that meet the sustainability of retirement provision. The Public Utilities Alliance of Canada will soon be approaching the employer to begin negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement. CUPW has received arbitrator Elizabeth MacPherson`s decision regarding the collective agreements of our two bargaining units at Canada Post: Urban Operations and Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers. From 1 January 2020, urban workers will be protected against inflation. This protection is granted during the last two years of the collective agreement. If the cost of living increases by more than 5.33% during these two years, COLA protection will be triggered. In 2018, the September arbitration award also reached an important conclusion on the central theme of pay equity. As I said, gender equality is a central human right and this judgment is fundamental to the way we pay MSRs. RSMCs will see their salary increases from the January 2019 judgment. The full comparison and full payment are made until autumn 2019, with retroactive effect until January 2016, in accordance with the judgment and the agreements concluded by the parties.
We had a difficult year in which we worked on all these topics. While we were on a positive financial path in the first half of the year, we have lost a significant portion of our customer base since then and parcel volume has not continued to increase as expected. Instead, the quantities of packages during the holiday period were lower than in the previous year. Throughout the company, a huge amount of work has been done to be covered by the backlogs and I would like to thank everyone for their contribution to these efforts. In accordance with the agreement of the parties, this will be a 4-year collective agreement that will expire on January 31, 2022. A collective agreement is a written legal contract that includes workers grouped into a single bargaining unit. The contract will be concluded through collective bargaining between the union and the employer. We have made many efforts to resolve these negotiations and return to normal functioning. We have had to find a difficult balance, because we also have an obligation to keep the postal service strong and financially viable, not only for today, but also for future generations. In our efforts to find the right balance necessary to reach an agreement, we have done everything in our power to be fair to the staff while being accountable. There is still a long way to go, but this stressful chapter at Canada Post will come to an end.
If we move forward, I know there will still be a lot of work to be done to repair many relationships – with customers, Canadians, unions and especially employees.