Four cities on Vancouver Island hit by rotating postal strikes

Rotating strikes by postal workers continued around the country in 15 centres Wednesday, including in Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay and Campbell River.

Victoria saw a day of strike action by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers on Oct. 22, the day the rotating strikes began. The union, with 50,000 members, is pushing for contract changes from Canada Post.

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There were 37 workers on strike in Port Alberni, where local union president Mieka Guerin said health and safety is the big concern they want to discuss with their employer. She said postal workers retire with a disability at eight times the average rate.

“What we’re saying is let’s get together and figure out some health and safety issues, and let’s all go home and retire safely.”

The union is also looking for gender-equity language in a new deal, along with no more forced overtime.

Guerin said the strike is rotating to minimize effects on the public.

Canada Post is facing a days-long backlog of parcel deliveries as scattered walkouts by postal workers escalate across the country, the Crown corporation warned Wednesday, hours before the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was set to call a national overtime ban.

Dozens of trailers filled with parcels were awaiting processing at corporation’s three biggest hubs as employees from several Quebec communities joined countrywide rotating strikes a day after about 6,000 workers walked off the job in Montreal.

“At this point there is a backlog of over 150 trailers in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal of items waiting to be unloaded and processed, with more arriving every day,” said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton.

“Once processed, these items have to be delivered without overburdening our delivery employees. As a result, customers could see delays of several days.”

Combined, the three key locations can process a million parcels a day from across the country.

To further press its contract demands, CUPW would institute a ban on overtime for both of its major bargaining units, effective 12:10 a.m. today, the union told the Canadian Press. The ban means postal workers would refuse to work overtime beyond their normal eight-hour days.

“We’ve had it,” said CUPW national president Mike Palecek. “Overburdening, overtime and overwork are all major issues in this round of bargaining.”

CUPW said earlier Wednesday walkouts had started in Saint-Jerome, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Sorel, Sainte-Therese de Blainville and Valleyfield in Quebec.

Workers in Joliette, Que., had been on strike since 1 a.m. EDT, and the Prince Edward Island communities of Summerside and Charlottetown were hit by strikes that started at midnight local time.

The Montreal walkout ended Tuesday night, but another 16 communities across the country were taking part in the 24-hour strikes, the union said.

In Ontario, walkouts began in Arnprior-Renfrew and Ottawa Wednesday morning.

Strikes in Fort Frances, Deep River and other communities in the province ended.

Postal workers also walked off the job at four locals on Vancouver Island early Wednesday morning. The rotating strikes saw postal workers in the B.C. communities of Fort Nelson, Dawson Creek, Columbia River and Nelson, who had been off the job Tuesday, return to work.

The union and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreements for two bargaining units after 10 months of negotiations.

Canada Post has said it provided “significant” offers to its employees, including wage hikes.

“But they don’t address a single one of our major issues, Palecek said in a statement on the union’s website. Those issues include health and safety concerns, Palecek said, adding that the wage offers fall far below expected cost-of-living increases.

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