OTTAWA – Canada Post employees shifted their rotating strikes to Sherbrooke, Que., Calgary and Red Deer, Alta., on Thursday, ending two days of work stoppage in the Toronto area that forced the closure of the Crown corporation’s largest sorting plants.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers announced early Thursday that the Quebec City area was the latest location for the strike, with workers walking off the job at 4 a.m. local time.
The Calgary walkout began Wednesday at 6 p.m. MT and in Kelowna, B.C., at 6 a.m. PT, with workers there returning to work early Thursday.
Nearly 9,000 CUPW members walked off the job in the Toronto region early Tuesday as part of rotating strikes that began Monday to back contract demands.
The job action at the giant gateway parcel facility in Mississauga, Ont., which processes roughly two-thirds of all parcels mailed in Canada, and the south central mail plant in the Toronto’s east end, forced delays in shipments of tens of thousands of letters and parcels across the country.
Toronto area postal workers were back at work as of midnight Thursday, CUPW said.
“Our members would rather be doing their jobs than walking the picket line, but Canada Post has left us no choice,” Mike Palecek, the union’s national president, said in a statement.
“Canada Post needs to come to the bargaining table ready to talk about the issues that matter _ health and safety, equality for (rural and suburban mail carriers) and an end to precarious work.”
CUPW and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreements for the two bargaining units in 10 months of negotiations.
Labour Minister Patty Hajdu has appointed special mediator Morton Mitchnick, a former chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, to help the two parties resolve their contract differences.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said the Crown corporation has made “significant offers” to CUPW _which include increased wages, job security and improved benefits _ and has not asked for any concessions in return.
He said Canada Post is working to restore service and eliminate any mail and parcel backlogs.
“Canada Post continues to operate across the rest of Canada and is accepting and delivering mail and parcels in all other locations,” Hamilton said.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that workers in Kelowna began their strike at 6:00 a.m. Thursday. It has been corrected to show these members began their strike on Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. for 24 hours.