Nova Scotia

Changes to Sydney postal sorting upsets union

Some unionized workers with Canada Post say the Crown corporation's decision to start sending mail to Halifax for sorting will cause delays in mail delivery.

Canada Post says customers will have same speed of service

Two mailboxes outside the Civic Centre in Sydney. One is used for local mail, the other for mail headed outside of Cape Breton. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Some unionized workers with Canada Post say the Crown corporation's decision to start sending mail to Halifax for sorting will cause delays in mail delivery.

Beginning mid-February, any letters posted in Sydney will now make an extra journey to Halifax for sorting.

Gordon MacDonald, the president of Local 117 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said the change is going to cause delays.

"Basically what it's going to cause is a two-day delay. Mail a letter in North Sydney, it's going to go to Halifax, it's going to take two days to get back," said MacDonald. 

"All the local mail is going to be put into one box and shipped to Halifax where as before, it was all shipped to the processing plant in Sydney. It was all taken care of, sorted up, dispatched the next morning to the destinations locally."

Anick Losier, a spokesperson for Canada Post, disagrees. She said the move will save money and customers shouldn't notice any change.

Losier said the company already has trucks leaving Sydney every day for Halifax with mail destined for other areas.

Now those trucks will carry all letters posted in Sydney to be sorted by machine in Halifax then trucked back the next day.

"The changes, in terms of mail delivery time, it's supposed to be two days, two business days. It's going to continue being that. But for us to be doing it mechanically, it is actually quicker and more efficient than doing it by hand," Losier said.

Not enough mail

She said there's just not enough mail coming in to the Sydney location to support the current way of sorting the mail.

"We have less mail in our system. That's equal to about two million less a day compared to last year. What it means, it does a real crunch on our financial situation," said Losier.

"We're adapting to this new reality and we have the capacity in our equipment and in our trucks going to and from Halifax every day. For us it's going to be more efficient to do it this way."

Losier said no one in Sydney will be laid off, they'll be reassigned to other duties.

MacDonald said that's not entirely correct. He said as workers retire, they won't be replaced.

"There's a full-time position right now that they're talking about deleting in Sydney and that's specifically because of that, sending the mail to Halifax," said MacDonald.

The sorting changes affect eight other communities across the province, including Port Hawkesbury.

This change will only affect letters. Parcels will still be sorted in Sydney.

The most visible change will be outside post offices and corner stores, where there are now two mailboxes — one for local mail and another for other mail. People will soon see just one mailbox instead.