Several cities targeted by postal strike
Mail volume drops by 50 per cent following strike action
Striking postal workers are targeting several towns and cities across the country as part of their ongoing dispute with Canada Post.
Cities and towns targeted
Labrador City, Labrador
Acadie-Bathurst, New Brunswick
Ste Jerome, Quebec
Thunder Bay, Ontario
St. Thomas, Ontario
Flin Flon, Manitoba
More than 800 postal workers in seven provinces and two territories hit the picket lines at 11:30 pm ET on Wednesday as part of 24-hour rotating strikes.
Earlier, Canada Post said it will reduce staffing levels at its mail sorting plants across the country to adjust to lower volumes since rotating strikes began.
Some Canada Post services will also be reduced. Delivery of letters and admail will be reduced to three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — in most cities served by Canada Post carriers.
Most small packages and documents will also be delivered three days a week, although Canada Post says it will try to deliver priority items five days a week.
The Crown corporation's announcement didn't say how many jobs will be affected or where the cuts will come.
The announcement comes as Calgary and Edmonton were the latest targets in the revolving postal strike.
The Alberta walkouts began at 10 p.m MT in Edmonton and 9 p.m MT in Calgary Tuesday night.
"The reason why Alberta was chosen is because in the past years we've had serious issues dealing with the employer with respect to staffing here and the level of forced overtime that letter carriers have been having to work," said Bev Ray, Edmonton Canadian Union of Postal Workers local president.
"Alberta has been one of the hardest hit locations across the country with respect to that."
In Edmonton, there was a small group of strikers at main sorting branch at 149th street Wednesday morning. Commuters frequently honked in support, which prompted the strikers to cheer and wave their flags.
"I'm pleased by the number of people as they drive by who are honking, waving. It's nice to see," said local shop steward Lorry Davies.
There will always be a need for the postal service, even in the digital age, Davies said. " People are using emails, so times have changed. Canada Post has got to change with that, I can appreciate it," he said.
"But at the same time we still need the hard copies that the local lawyers need. We need the hard copies that the government seem to need in triplicate. So there will always be a need for hard copy paper. It's just the way our society is."
Davies was encouraging Canadians to contact local MPs about the need to boost the postal service because it is a public service.
A spokesman for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers says escalation was discussed Tuesday, as it has been every day, but CUPW will continue the less disruptive localized strikes for now.
"We're continuing with the rolling 24-hour walkouts at this time and for the next 24 hours," John Bail, CUPW's national director for the Pacific region, said Tuesday evening.
"At this point in time we don't see a need to deprive the public entirely of all their postal service."
About 1,000 postal workers were on strike Tuesday in Moncton, N.B., and Victoria and earlier strikes were held in Winnipeg, Hamilton and Montreal.
Strike 'completely unnecessary,' Canada Post says
Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said strikes in Calgary and Edmonton are "completely unnecessary as CUPW has still not responded to our latest offer."
"The people of Alberta should be asking why the union is stopping their mail service when the company is offering wage increases, job security, a defined benefit pension, seven weeks of vacation and more."
Bail said Calgary and Edmonton were chosen because they are suffering from a chronic shortage of Canada Post workers.
There is a difference between Canada Post's wage proposal and the union's, but it's not insurmountable, Bail said.
A bigger sticking point is the union's position that Canada Post should convert more temporary jobs to permanent and more part-time jobs to full-time, Bail said.
Earlier Tuesday, Canada Post said the strikes have already had a severe impact on its business, dropping mail volumes as much as 50 per cent since they began.
"This decline in volume comes at a time when the company is already struggling to address significant business challenges," the corporation said in a statement.
"Canada Post does not understand why the Canadian Union of Postal Workers would willingly damage the business with strike action when the company has put a strong offer on the table."
Canada Post said its latest offer includes annual wage increases that for current employees would bring the top wage rate to $26 an hour, job security, no changes to a defined benefit pension plan, medical benefits and "generous" vacation leave that tops out at seven weeks per year.
Future hires would get a starting wage of $19 an hour, rising to a maximum $26 an hour, up to six weeks vacation and a defined benefit pension by age 60.
"The package for new employees is still superior to the wages and benefits offered by competing logistic and delivery companies," Canada Post said.
"Equally important, these changes will help Canada Post manage labour costs that take-up two-thirds of its revenues."