Calgary, Edmonton next postal strike targets

Calgary and Edmonton will be the next targets in the ongoing postal strike as union representatives considered their next moves, including a full-blown national walkout.

No talks scheduled as rolling strike hits Moncton, N.B., and Victoria

Canada Post vehicles sit idle as the strike by postal workers moved into its fifth day Tuesday, hitting Moncton, N.B., and Victoria, B.C. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Calgary and Edmonton will be the next targets in the revolving postal strike as union representatives considered their next moves, including a full-blown national walkout.

The Alberta walkouts will begin 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."

About 1,000 postal workers were off the job Tuesday in Moncton, N.B., and Victoria, B.C., the fifth day of rotating strikes that have already hit Montreal, Winnipeg and Hamilton, Ont.

Leaders of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said they planned to meet later in the day to discuss strategy. Among the options is a strike at the national level, said Jeff Callaghan, CUPW national director of the Atlantic region.

"Our plans are to continue the rotating strikes," Callaghan said in an interview. "Our board is meeting later on, so we'll make that determination if there's an escalation or if we keep going with the rotating strikes.

"For the most part, we're trying to lessen the impact on the communities that we serve, so we'll make that determination once we meet."

Mail volumes drop

Canada Post said mail volumes have dropped as much as 50 per cent since the strikes began.

Both negotiators for the union and Canada Post have left the bargaining table, and union officials said there is no indication when talks may resume. In an email Tuesday, Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said the ball is in the union's court.

"We are waiting for the union to respond to our latest offer which includes wage increases, job security and a defined benefit pension and much more," he wrote. "This generous offer is what's on the table, while the union continues their disruptive strike activities across the country."

The Crown corporation rejected the latest proposal from union negotiators on Monday, but backed away from its own thorny proposal to create more part-time positions to deal with a decline in mail volume.

Canada Post has said CUPW's latest proposal didn't offer solutions to problems such as declining volume, increased competition and electronic substitutes for traditional mail.

The strike has affected local businesses.

In his basement shop in Riverview, N.B., surrounded by brightly coloured feathers, furs and threads, veteran fly tier Bryant Freeman told CBC News that about 50 per cent of his business is done through Canada Post. He ships supplies in and out and mails flies and other fishing gear to France and Russia.

"This time of year the fishermen are going out and [if] they have a hole in their waders, I can order a pair … and have them here within four days," Freeman said. "I can't get that now. I have to have it shipped through another company which is usually twice as much cost as Canada Post.