Montreal hit by another round of Canada Post strikes

The work stoppage comes one day after Canada Post brought what it calls a "time-limited" offer to the table in hopes of signing a new collective agreement before the holiday rush.

Local union members hesitant to accept Canada Post's newest offer

Workers gathered in front of the sorting centre in the borough of Saint-Laurent Thursday morning, bundled up against the cold. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Montreal postal workers went on strike again early Thursday morning, as protests were launched in a total of eight regions countrywide.

The work stoppage comes one day after Canada Post brought what it calls a "time-limited" offer to the table in hopes of signing a new collective agreement before the holiday rush. 

Jamie Hall works for Canada Post at the sorting centre in the borough of Saint-Laurent. She joined her colleagues before the sun rose Thursday as they clustered in front of their workplace — burning barrel fires to keep warm in the frigid temperatures, waving signs and chanting slogans.

Hall's husband is a mail carrier and, she said, he has no choice but to work "very long hours. It's unsafe working conditions."

Canada Post's four-year offer includes annual two-per-cent wage hikes, signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee and compensation to rural carriers. 

But Hall is among those cautious to sign.

"Always be suspicious when a corporation wants to just hand you lump sums of money," she said. "There is a lot of stuff in that deal that is not good for the workers."

A glimmer of hope?

Still, not everybody is so pessimistic.

The new deal provides a glimmer of hope that Canada Post is listening to demands and concerns, but the protests will continue until a deal is reached, says Lise-Lyne Gélineau, who presides over the local chapter of the Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). 

The Montreal chapter of the CUPW represents some 6,800 employees. The union held a temporary strike at the end of October as part of the rotating strikes that have delayed mail service in more than 200 communities across the country since Oct. 22.

Among their demands, Canada Post employees want more job security and reduced overtime hours. (Charles Contant/CBC)

While the salary increase offered is attractive, she said there are still concerns about job security among part-time workers.

It's also important that postal workers have normal working hours rather that the long days of overtime currently expected, she said.

The union is at the table, ready to negotiate and its members want to continue serving the population, she told CBC News, but now it up to Canada Post to "fix the situation."

Beyond adjusting salaries and offering more job security to part-time workers, she said the workflow must be restructured to reduce overtime hours.

The union has until Nov. 17 to decide whether it will sign Canada Post's offer. Most of the rotating strikes have been for 24 hours, but others have lasted longer.

At this point, the union isn't saying how long Thursday's protest in Montreal will last. 

With files from Lauren McCallum


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