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Ottawa, Canada - No Mail Delivery: Canada Post Suspends Operations Nationwide, Blames Union

Published on: June 15, 2011 12:57 AM
By: AP
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Ottawa, Canada - Most Canadians will find their mailboxes empty Wednesday after Canada Post suspended operations across the country after 12 days of rotating strikes by its 48,000 unionized urban workers.

The government-owned corporation said it was forced to declare the lockout late Tuesday night after the rotating work stoppages caused mail volume and revenue to drop significantly. The move halts nearly all mail delivery.

“While we’d hoped to avoid a disruption to service to Canadians, we feel we can’t continue to let this drag on,” Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton told the Canadian Press.

“It’s having a huge impact on the business, it’s having a huge impact on our customers and our employees and the time is now to get a deal with the union.”

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The post office estimated it lost C$100 million (US$97 million) after the largest rotating strikes took place Tuesday in Montreal and Toronto, where about 60 per cent of the country’s mail is handled.

The postal corporation also said talks with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers were at an impasse, with the two sides “far apart” on several key issues and no progress at the negotiating table for weeks.

“If we allow the uncertainty created by the rotating strikes to continue — and we’ve seen customers walking away from Canada Post — our ability to remain financially self-sufficient and not become a burden on taxpayers certainly is going to be in jeopardy,” Hamilton said.

Union representatives reacting to news of the lockout said Canada Post’s latest move was not entirely unexpected.

“I see it as a maneuver on the part of the corporation to try and get the government to legislate us back to work and legislate some type of unfavorable collective agreement on to us, as opposed to allowing the free and collective bargaining process to work itself out,” said Gerry Deveau, CUPW National Director for the Ontario region.

The federal government had appeared to rule out back-to-work legislation earlier this week, but the nationwide lockout could change that.

Canadians had already been feeling the effects of the labor dispute, not just from the rotating strikes, but because Canada Post had scaled back mail delivery in cities to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before declaring the lockout. The union had said the reduction in delivery days was an attempt by the corporation to provoke a strike.

The current country-wide suspension of urban mail is likely to have a wider impact.

Although the labor dispute does not include rural postal workers, who fall under a different contract, the post office has acknowledged that a prolonged lockout could mean the rural carriers would soon have no more mail to deliver.

“There will be nothing moving through this country,” said Deveau. “If the government doesn’t intervene then I do see this potentially being a very long lockout.”

Both sides have said they expect to continue negotiating through Wednesday.

Pensions, workplace health and safety and sick leave benefits have been some of the key stumbling blocks, Deveau said.

Meanwhile, Canada Post said it is still eager to reach a negotiated settlement.

“We certainly hope this is only a short-term measure,” said Hamilton. “Unfortunately we have not been able to make much progress at the table and believe this is the best way to bring forward a timely resolution to the impasse.”


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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 15, 2011 at 07:36 AM JustThinking Says:

UPS is often cheaper to Canada anyways. Let them stay on strike. When they will not get paid for a few weeks and feel the pain millions of Canadians are feeling with the downturn in the economy maybe they will be more grateful for the ridiculous benefits they get.

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 Jun 15, 2011 at 08:40 AM CampRunamok Says:

...or this will further demonstrate the complete irrelevance of "snail mail" in the 21st century. Time for the Federal Government to cut its losses altogether and shutter the national carrier? UPS/DHL/etc. handle most large parcels already and most essential correspondence (banking, billing, commerce etc) is done online. Pretty much all that arrives in my mailbox today is junk mail advertising.

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 Jun 15, 2011 at 08:43 AM Yitzchok848 Says:

Good warning for the US Postal "service" "workers"!

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 Jun 15, 2011 at 11:29 AM Ask Me Why Says:

Ask me why I hope the union and its head, Denis Lemerin, lose their battle in as humiliating a manner as possible........

In 2008 the Canadian Postal Workers Union voted for a campaign to "boycott, divest from, and sanction" Israel. But wait, it gets better. Now this unsavory union head has encouraged his members to support a new flotilla to Gaza to break Israel's blockade. This is what the Canadian Postal Union is busy with. While his members lose pensions and benefits, Denis Lemerin focuses on demonizing Israel. No wonder the Canadian government is fed up, and just announced in the last hour that if the strike isn't resolved soon, they'll step in and legislate the postal workers back to work. Kol Hakavod, Canadian government. And may Lemerin and his cronies sail the Gaza-bound ship, and face the wrath of real pirates and terrorists on their great adventure........

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 Jun 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM GB_Jew Says:

I read this story with interest because, over here, we are having similar problems with the postal workers' unions. CampRunamok #2 (lovely screen name, btw!) is correct when he/she mentions "the complete irrelevance of 'snail mail' in the 21st century.

In January 2009 I bought a sheet of one hundred first class stamps at my local post office. I have just counted the remainder and I was astonished to see that - after 18 months - I still have 85 stamps left.

The answer in my case is simple: I send 5-10 emails a day, which notionally cost me nothing. The 15 stamps I did use were for sending checks to pay utility bills, although - had I wanted to - I could have easily paid those online too.

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