Nova Scotia

Mail plan set in case of strike: Steele

Nova Scotia's provincial government says it will ensure government cheques get to their destinations in the event of a strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Nova Scotia's provincial government says it will ensure government cheques get to their destinations in the event of a strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia's provincial government says it will ensure government cheques get to their destinations in the event of a strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

The union gave the required 72 hours strike notice on Monday, meaning postal workers could begin withdrawing services at midnight on Thursday.

"We will make their cheques available for pick up or we will make delivery arrangements which will most often be by way of staff delivering the cheques which is not an additional cost but there will be cases, inevitably, where we'll have to do it by courier," said Finance Minister Graham Steele.

"As of this week we are stopping putting cheques in the mail. So it's precisely at this point onwards that people will start to notice something."

The Department of Finance sends an average of 41,400 cheques to Nova Scotians each month, including those on social assistance.

Steele said all social assistance and pension cheques for June have been delivered.

If postal workers in Nova Scotia stop working, members of the public who need to deliver important letters to departments will be able to use drop boxes set up at the province's 11 Access Nova Scotia offices.

"We will use our network of regional offices across the province and work with individuals and businesses to ensure the work of government continues with as little disruption as possible to Nova Scotians," Steele said in a news release.

Meeting makes little progress

A meeting of the president of Canada Post, his union counterpart and the federal labour minister appeared to have made little progress on Wednesday in averting a possible postal workers' strike.

Deepak Chopra, the president and CEO of Canada Post, and Canadian Union of Postal Workers president Denis Lemelin met in Ottawa to try to reach a deal and avoid a disruption of mail service. They also met with Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.

"As of 5:00 p.m. EDT, there are no meetings scheduled between the parties. To date, [Canada Post] has not responded to any of the new positions advanced by the union in our final offer except to say no," the union said in a statement after the meeting.

At the Canadian Union of Postal Workers office in Halifax, the picket signs are ready — as are the postal workers.

"They're all very aware of the issues and they've said very clearly that they're willing to fight to protect our wages, our working conditions and our sick leave program," said Trevor Beckerson.

Mike Larisey, of Maritime Hobbies and Crafts, still writes cheques to creditors and sends them using Canada Post. He said he's prepared to wait out a strike.

"We're an old business. We've been doing this for years and I just don't want to change. I just still like writing my cheques and sending them out and we just haven't gotten in to doing internet banking yet," he said.

"I've been in this business for 45 years so we've had strikes before. You find ways around it."

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