Strikes "really making this company bleed", says Canada Post
Strike activity has cost Canada Post $65m so far since it began on June 3, with half of this from the loss of contracts with large mailers, a spokesperson said today. From the start of this week, the Crown Corporation has cut lettermail and admail deliveries in urban areas to three days per week in many urban centres, as well as dropping processing staff, to respond to a 50% drop in mail volumes with strikes scaring away the public.
Most small packages and documents are also being delivered three days a week, although priority items will be delivered five days a week.
The strike action has seen various organisations putting alternative communications arrangements in place, including encouraging more use of online channels for things like bill paying transactions. Mailing industry experts have warned that those making use of online communications may not return to the mail.
“What the union is doing now is really making this company bleed,” spokesperson Anick Losier told Post&Parcel this afternoon.
“What we have seen is a $65m impact so far across the country – just in terms of large mailers that have decided to end their contracts with Canada Post it is about $35m that is just gone – and we’re not sure if we are going to get this back.”
Canada Post said accused the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which is holding a series of 24-hour or 48-strikes that has been rotating through different Canadian cities, of not being “serious” about ongoing negotiations for a new four-year wage deal for its urban members.
Its spokesperson said every time Canada Post put forward new compromises, the union was simply ignoring them, and adding even more demands to their own proposals. “It is hard to negotiate seriously when there is not even serious consideration of what we are trying to offer,” she said.
The union has also been accusing Canada Post of refusing to negotiate.
The CUPW, which despite ongoing declines in mail volumes is arguing that 16 consecutive years of profitability at Canada Post should translate to reward for its members in the next wage deal, said today that the Corporation was “aggressively trying to force postal workers out on a full-scale national strike”.
The union representing 48,000 urban members in the collective bargaining process, accused Canada Post today of an attempt to coax the Canadian government to intervene in the strike by trying to “provoke” a national walkout.
CUPW’s National President and Chief Negotiator Denis Lemelin described the current three day a week reduced schedule as a “partial lockout”, and suggested it would have more of an impact on mail volumes than the union’s strikes.
“They are not interested in negotiating with us to end this strike. They want to force postal workers to take concessions,” said Lemelin. “To that end, they are suspending postal service across the country, even where no picket lines are up.”
Strikes continued today in 10 areas including Niagara Falls and Windsor, Ontario, areas in Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Saskatoon.
Canada Post said cuts in services this week responding to mail volume reductions will not affect rural and community mailboxes, since they are serviced by members of the Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers union.
All parcels will continue delivery as usual, Canada Post confirmed.
And, post office hours are similarly unaffected, while pick-ups from qualified customers and mailboxes on major streets would continue as usual, the Corporation said.
Negotiations over the new collective bargaining agreement have been ongoing between Canada Post and the CUPW since October.
At the end of last week, the union offered to suspend its strike activity to allow fresh mediation efforts to take place. The offer was conditional on Canada Post reinstating the terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement, which was suspended when the strikes began 10 days ago.
The Corporation refused, stating its belief that “nothing will be gained” by reverting to the previous wage deal, and that continuing uncertainty over a long-term solution to the dispute would keep customers away.
“We do not want any strike activity, we know that it is seriously harming this company for the future. We need this action to stop, and to work to get a negotiated settlement, as opposed to trying to figure out how to react to the next rotating strike,” said the Canada Post spokesperson.