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Grande Prairie feeling effect of Canada Post strikes

It will likely take longer for people in Grande Prairie to get their mail. Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 744 Vice-President Connor Dowd-Taylor says Canada Post’s rotating strikes are slowing down service locally.

“Even today at our letter carrier plants in Grande Prairie, there’s minimal mail and parcels going out today. A lot of the city centres, including Edmonton and surrounding Edmonton, will see quite a low amount of mail and parcels today and possibly over the next couple of days.”

Tuesday marks the second day of postal disruptions across the country, with nearly 9,000 workers walking off the job in the Toronto area. Monday’s 24-hour strike included Victoria, Edmonton, Windsor and Halifax, and it’s unknown where could be next.

“We get the directive from our national headquarters in Ottawa about whether or not we will be going out on the picket line at midnight,” explains Dowd-Taylor, “so it is quite possible that we could see a strike here locally.”

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The job action is what Dowd-Taylor calls the “final straw” after 10 months of minimal progress on a new contract agreement. He warns it could lead to employees being locked out by Canada Post.

“There would be no mail delivery whatsoever, which is what happened in 2011. I know there are quite a few older and elderly people that get medicine through the mail; I would definitely suggest maybe a month or two month supply ahead of time just to ensure that you get it.”

Some of the major sticking points for the CUPW include health and safety issues, gender equality, and forced overtime. Dowd-Taylor says the latter is most felt in Grande Prairie, especially since part of the city was switched to community mailboxes.

“With that we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of points of call or mailboxes that our letter carriers have to deliver to. Here in Grande Prairie there’s quite a few people that average 10 to 12 hour work days that are not able to spend time with their families and are overworked.”

Dowd-Taylor adds that some employees have had their shifts changed to start at 10 a.m. instead of 8 a.m., meaning they’re working later into the day as well. The next round of rotating strike locations has not yet been announced.

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