Canada Post workers hit the picket line in Whitehorse
'Nothing is going in, nothing is coming out — it is frozen,' says local vice president
A picket line is set up at Canada Post offices in Whitehorse on Friday.
It's part of rotating strikes that started across Canada on Oct. 22, with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) calling for increased wages and benefits in a new contract.
Cars were honking on Two Mile Hill in Whitehorse on Friday morning, with Canada Post workers waving.
"Today the Whitehorse local got the call to walk to the picket lines," said CUPW local 852 vice president Keith Ellert.
"Nothing is going in, nothing is coming out — it is frozen."
Creston, Elk Valley, Golden, Grand Forks, Kimberley, Kitimat, Powell River, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Salmon Arm / Revelstoke, Sunshine Coast, Terrace (BC) and Whitehorse (YT) locals are on strike as of 7am PT, Nov 9 – Members: [<a href="https://t.co/gMNdGgYrtg">https://t.co/gMNdGgYrtg</a>] <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/canlab?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#canlab</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/negos2018?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#negos2018</a> <a href="https://t.co/kju3zNHgV7">pic.twitter.com/kju3zNHgV7</a>—@cupw
CUPW tweeted that Whitehorse is part of strike action on Friday beginning at 7 a.m. PT, as well as several towns in B.C., including Prince Rupert, Terrace, Revelstoke and Salmon Arm.
Ellert said one of the "huge issues" that needs to be addressed is improved health and safety for workers.
"Canada Post has the highest injury rate of all federal sectors, almost four times the national average. It's gone beyond unacceptable. It's reached a crisis point," he said.
'Astronomical increase' in parcels
"I think people understand that there has been an astronomical increase in volume of parcels across the country, with online shopping being what it is — probably even more so here in the Yukon."
Ellert says more parcels means postal workers are often forced to work overtime, and some rural mail carriers work unpaid hours.
"While our letter carriers are paid by the hour, RSMCs [rural and suburban mail carriers] are paid by the route. Now with a huge increase in parcel volume, we're seeing RSMCs that are sometimes working 10, 12 hours a day — but their route says they get paid for 4 or 5 hours," he said.
"It's ridiculous that Canada Post feels that they don't have to pay employees for every hour worked. What other company in Canada can get away with that?"
Ellert said workers will be on the picket line until 6 p.m. Friday.
"Then we'll wait for word from the national to see if we're going to be out here another day and we'll take it from there."
With files from Philippe Morin