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‘We’re just looking to be treated fairly’: Postal workers begin rotating strikes

CUPW members try to keep warm during an early-morning shift on the picket line at the Canada Post location at 28 Topple Dr. in Dartmouth on Monday.
CUPW members try to keep warm during an early-morning shift on the picket line at the Canada Post location at 28 Topple Dr. in Dartmouth on Monday. - Tim Krochak

HALIFAX -- Canada Post workers carried picket signs instead of packages Monday after they walked off the job amid what they call unfair treatment by the Crown corporation.

“We’re just looking to be treated fairly, I guess, really,” said one man on the picket line in Halifax, where groups of well-bundled picketers surrounded the main postal depot on a cold and windy morning.

“They keep making millions in profits none of that is coming to us. They keep taking money away from us. Rollbacks after rollbacks, every contract.”

None of the postal workers who spoke to The Chronicle Herald wanted their names used. They spoke of longer workdays, skyrocketing parcel loads sparked by an online shopping boom and hourly wages that are six or seven dollars below that of competitors such as Purolator.

“When they make the route up, they say 20 parcels, that’s your eight-hour day and all of a sudden you get 80 parcels,” a woman said over the sound of honking horns from supportive motorists passing by on Almon Street.“An eight-hour workday has now become an 11- or 12-hour workday.”

While the resulting overtime pay appeals to some workers, not everyone wants to work 12 hours a day, the woman said.

“It’s a physical job, it’s hard on the body, it’s hard on people. And so if you sign up and want to do it for extra money, that’s one thing. But when you’re forced to do it, that’s a whole other thing.”

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers began rotating strikes after midnight Monday in Halifax, Victoria, Edmonton and Windsor, Ont. The strikes will last for 24 hours with locations striking daily, CUPW said in a news release.

“Canada Post had the opportunity this weekend to stop any postal disruption on Monday, but instead, as they have for almost a year, they refused to talk about the issues that matter to our members,” said CUPW’s national president Mike Palecek. “Our goal has always been a negotiated settlement but we will not agree to anything that doesn’t address health and safety, gender equality and good, full-time middle-class jobs.”

CUPW said it opted for rotating strikes to minimize the impact of a postal disruption on customers.

The union’s key demands are job security, an end to forced overtime and overburdening, better health and safety measures, service expansion and equality for rural and suburban mail carriers. 

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