MEDICINE HAT, AB. — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees has begun rotating strikes in four cities across the country.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says the 24-hour strikes began Monday at 12:01 a.m. local time in Victoria, Edmonton and Windsor, Ont., and at 1:01 a.m. in Halifax.
The union says mail will still be delivered in those cities, but will be delayed.
Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said on Sunday that in the event of rotating strikes normal mail delivery would be maintained in all other locations across the country.
The job action began after negotiators failed to reach a new contract agreement before the union's Monday strike deadline.
Hamilton said Canada Post was committed to reaching a deal, and had an offer on the table that included wage hikes, job security, improved benefits and no concessions.
But CUPW President Mike Palecek said the key issues of job security, an end to forced overtime, better health and safety measures and gender equality remained unresolved.
Local president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Doris Salmaso said those four locations were chosen to spread out the impact of a possible strike across all corners of the country.
“It encapsulates the whole country, there a little bit from everybody,” said Salmaso. “So, it’s across the country that some will be hit.”
Medicine Hat was not selected as part of the first wave of potential strikes, but there is the possibility that cities like Medicine Hat could be added to the rotating strikes in the coming days.
Salmaso said right now it’s a waiting game to hear if Medicine Hat will be selected as one of those cities, if the strike carries through the week.
“We have no idea, they're 24 hours long and they'll just keep rolling across until hopefully we can get a negotiated agreement soon,” she said.
According to the union, they’re fighting for issues like better job security for workers, an end to forced overtime protocols, and increased benefits.
Salmaso added many parcel carriers are being stretched too thin across Canada and this was their best course of action for implementing change.
“Mail volumes, parcel volumes in particular, are rising so quickly that we can’t keep up,” she said. “In our contract we have to finish our days work, regardless how long it takes. So, there’s people across the country working 10-12 hours a day trying to get the stuff done.”
In the meantime, mail service in Medicine Hat is expected to operate as usual until an announcement is made that would include the city in the rotating strike list.
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