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Postal worker strike hits Metro Vancouver

Last Updated Oct 26, 2018 at 3:32 pm PST

FILE: Unionized Canada Post workers picket in front of the post office at Georgia and Richards Streets in Downtown Vancouver on Oct. 26, 2018. (Isabelle Raghem, CityNews Vancouver)
Summary

Canada Post workers in Vancouver walk off the job Friday, joining a number of others on the picket line

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – About 3,400 Canada Post workers have walked off the job in Metro Vancouver for day five of rotating strike action across the country.

About 3,400 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in this region walked off the job at 9 a.m. The local picket lines are expected to be gone by Saturday.

Earlier this week, CUP-W members were off the job in Victoria and Kelowna, but negotiators are still at the bargaining table with hope a deal can be reached without escalating to a full-blown strike.

Local union president Jennifer Savage says demands aren’t just about money.

“I believe it was one in eight external workers had a disabling injury in 2017 and that’s extremely concerning. Canada Post needs to try to ensure that any new work methods that did roll out were things that were not going to negatively affect the health and safety of the members.”

Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff hopes this won’t lead to a full-blown strike, but says union demands are reasonable.

“Ultimately, postal workers live in communities, spend their paycheques in communities, support services in their communities… They are not asking for [everything] under the sun. I think there are many issues here that postal workers are engaged in at the bargaining table.”

He defends picket lines, in support of key issues like job security, as well as health and safety.

“The people who make the argument [that] unions have passed their relevancy fail to realize that despite our good efforts to improve things on behalf of our members, most of our efforts are to improve things for Canadians.”

 

If strike action escalates to more than one day, the provincial government has contingency plans to ensure people on income assistance don’t have to wait long for payments.

Staff with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction say most already have direct deposit, but emergency grants are available and supports are also in place for anyone with mobility issues.

It says those who receive cheques by mail may get them a day or two late. Those with mobility issues can send a friend or relative with a signed letter of consent and ID to pick up their cheques on their behalf.

“Postal workers take great pride in their job, and they would much rather be working than on the picket line today, but Canada Post has left us no choice,” said CUPW National President Mike Palecek.

“While we continue to strike, it doesn’t mean we aren’t still negotiating. We have never left the bargaining table, and we will continue to negotiate with Canada Post until our major issues – health and safety, equality for all workers, and full-time jobs- are addressed,” he added.

The union has been negotiating collective agreements with Canada Post for 10 months.

Nearly 9,000 workers walked out earlier this week in the Greater Toronto Area, creating delays in mail and parcel shipments.

-With files from the Canadian Press and Denise Wong