There will be no mail delivery in Grande Prairie today. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ rotating strikes hit the city Friday, with Local 744 workers walking off the job in the morning.
There are around 150 people in the Local, which also includes High Prairie and Peace River, and roughly 100 are expected to picket outside the Canada Post sorting plant in Grande Prairie for 24 hours. Vice-President Connor Dowd-Taylor says they’re also joined by Rural and Suburban Mail Carrier employees.
“We’re also fighting for equality for the RSMCs; we need them to have the same rights as everyone else here… We do have two separate collective agreements but they did expire at the same time and we’re trying to negotiate one collective agreement.”
The union began strike action on October 22nd, and operations have been shut down in more than 70 communities across the country so far. It and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreements after 10 months of negotiations.
Dowd-Taylor says his biggest concern is the health and safety of workers. He notes postal workers are now the most injured group of workers in the federal sector, at five times the average rate.
“Especially for letter carriers out on the street, essentially it’s too much mail. It’s too much weight to be carrying around, they’re working too late into the night and they can’t see on the streets when it’s icy.”
One of the expired collective agreements let Canada Post give mandatory overtime to some postal workers, which included letter carriers. CUPW recently called for a national overtime ban, which means employees can refuse to work beyond their normal eight-hour days.
Dowd-Taylor encourages anyone who supports the union to reach out to their local MP to stress that mail delivery is an essential service in Canada. He says that while it may seem like negotiations only came to a head a couple of weeks ago, the process has been a lengthy one.
“Until Canada Post decides to negotiate with us, we don’t have an end in sight yet.”