Mail super-boxes 'way to cut costs,' union suspects

The union representing postal workers says safety may not be the only reason Canada Post is moving rural customers to new super-box sites.

The union representing postal workers says safety may not be the only reason Canada Post is moving rural customers to super-box sites.

"One of our major concerns is that Canada Post is looking at this as a back door, a way to cut costs and to save money and cut jobs down the line," Jean-Francois Savoie, a representative of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, told CBC News Monday.

Union representative Jean-Francois Savoie thinks there may be a hidden agenda in Canada Post's safety review. ((CBC))

Canada Post has been carrying out safety inspections on all rural mailboxes on Prince Edward Island as the first phase of a Canada-wide review.

Those that are deemed unsafe for mail carriers to stop at are moved to a new, community mailbox. So far, Canada Post has set up 80 new super-box sites on P.E.I., and many are not popular with their new users.

"They're certainly not as convenient as our own mailbox at the end of the driveway," Hazelbrook resident Charlie Burns said Monday.

"I'm thinking it's for some cost-cutting."

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers agrees.

Savoie said rural carriers are paid by the kilometre. The union said routes with new super-boxes tend to be shorter, so some postal workers will receive less pay.

Island MP also suspicious

Even one of P.E.I.'s federal MPs suspects there may be a hidden agenda.

The Liberalrepresentative for Cardigan, Lawrence MacAuley, said he thinks the trend means an end to rural mail delivery in the future.

"I'm very concerned because once you make a service unacceptable, it's pretty well over," MacAuley said.

"And when you starting cutting things out of it, it will mean the end of rural mail delivery down the road."

Canada Post said it set up the super-boxes entirely for safety reasons.

Some residents say new community mailboxes are unsafe, and a back-door way for Canada Post to cut costs. ((CBC))

It said it is costing the corporation hundreds of millions of dollars to do the safety review across Canada. It felt the review was necessary because of complaints about dangerous routes from postal workers and the postal union.

But the union said some of the new sites also pose dangers for postal workers.

"They're just placing them unilaterally," said Savoie.

"We don't know if they're safe, we don't know if the location is safe. They aren't apparently taking into consideration the people doing the mail delivery for their input."