The rotating strikes by unionized Canada Post employees have reached Kamloops, where picket lines are up outside the corporation’s offices, meaning there will be no mail delivery or collection in the Tournament Capital on Thursday.
The union and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreement since the deal for rural and suburban letter carriers covering 8,000 members, expired Dec. 31, 2017, and the contract with about 42,000 urban workers expired on Jan. 31, 2018.
Another round of mediation this week has yet to result in a deal.
A picket line outside Canada Post’s Dalhousie Drive sorting station greeted commuters on a cold Thursday morning.
“Overburdening, overwork and overtime,” is what letter carrier Lara Plummer told KTW when asked on the picket line to explain the job action. “The post office is now run through a system of overtime, so now everyone has to do overtime. We can’t get people to work anymore for $20 an hour, so it’s just too much work.”
Plummer is past-president of the Kamloops local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and has been a letter carrier for 25 years.
Others on the picket line cited wages as a major issue, with one letter carrier noting her hourly wage has not kept up with inflation through the decades. Another letter carrier said he is concerned about working conditions, noting he is hampered by an injured shoulder during his daily rounds.
Other issues cited by the union include job security, better health and safety measures, service expansion and pay equity for its rural carriers.
Plummer said a full strike is possible if mediation this week again fails to find common ground, noting if that happens, she hopes the federal Liberal government does not emulate its Conservative predecessor and legislate employees back to work.
Federal Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu has extended the appointment of Morton Mitchnick as a mediator through Friday in an effort to have the two sides reach a negotiated collective agreement.
Canada Post has issued a statement on its website, warning of delays in mail delivery due to the rotating job action.
“The union’s escalating strikes continue to cause backlogs in our national, integrated delivery network,” the statement reads. “As a result, customers could see delays of several days. Mail and parcels will not be delivered or picked up in impacted areas while the union continues their strike activity.”
Canada Post said it has made “significant offers” to CUPW that include increased wages, job security and improved benefits, adding it has not asked for concessions in return.
CUPW issued a statement from national president Mike Palecek on Wednesday, calling for a national overtime ban for both major bargaining units at Canada Post.
“Postal workers, no matter what their job at Canada Post, will not work more than an eight-hour day and not more than a 40-hour week,” Palecek said. “Overburdening, overtime and overwork are all major issues in this round of bargaining. Until Canada Post negotiators address it, we can solve it for ourselves in the meantime.”
A statement on Canada Post’s website reports that since Oct. 22, CUPW’s rotating strikes have now shut down Canada Post’s operations in more than 125 communities across the country.
Kamloops is one of 31 communities across Canada in which postal workers are on strike on Thursday. In B.C., picket lines are also up in Cranbrook, Penticton, Vernon, Williams Lake and Quesnel.