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"Things are going very slow" as Canada Post strikes continue

The Canada Post logo is seen on the outside the company's Pacific Processing Centre, in Richmond, B.C., on June 1, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Negotiations continue to inch along between Canada Post and the union representing its employees.

The latest round of rolling strikes hit several communities in British Columbia on Monday, after previously stopping mail delivery in Calgary on October 25.

This is despite the federal government appointed a special mediator to assist with the talks.

“Things are going very slow, we haven’t made much progress,” said Gord Fischer, National Director for the Prairie Region of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Fischer thinks the mediator is doing the best job possible but blames some of the hold-up on the crown corporation.

“Canada Post’s attitude in terms of dealing with (CUPW) is that they seem to be unmoving, they seem to be stubborn. This corporation is a bit of a dinosaur; it needs to move ahead, and it needs to start dealing with its worker issues.”

Namely on that list of issues is health and safety, with the union saying work is precarious, dangerous and slow.

“A lot of that goes with overburdening in terms of people being required to do more work than can be reasonably expected and work more hours in a day than can be expected,” said Fischer.

The union is also not budging on its bread and butter: delivering traditional lettermail, even though lettermail deliveries have fallen sharply in the last few years while parcel deliveries skyrocket.

“Many people still use it,” added Fischer. “They use it for a number of purposes, whether that’s businesses for billings and it’s also for people that mail each other still, believe it or not — greeting cards, that sort of thing.”

But Ian Lee, an Associate Professor with the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University believes Canada Post needs to modernize into an e-commerce firm and put most of its focus on parcels.

He said one issue with lettermail is the majority of people who still receive it are getting older. Lee added another problem with CUPW’s argument is the complaint about workload.

“Right now, they’re waving their arms at 50,000 feet saying unfair workload, workload. And yet, you don’t hear these complaints from any other courier companies, so then the question is what are they doing differently?”

Fischer said the rolling strikes would continue to be their primary strategy as the negotiations progress, but the locations where they will happen are kept a secret “because we like to catch Canada Post unprepared if we can.”

But in the meantime, Fischer is still very optimistic a deal can be done, and the disruptions can stop soon.

“We’d like to get back to work and get mail service back to normal for the Canadian people, and so we’re hoping that either the government or Canada Post get to the bargaining table and reach a deal quickly.”