A new wave of unionized workers at Canada Post walked off the job on Wednesday morning as rotating, 24-hour strikes hit the Ottawa and Arnprior-Renfrew areas, four communities in British Columbia, two cities in P.E.I. and a number of areas in Quebec.
It’s the latest development in a protracted labour dispute between the corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). The two parties failed to reach new collective agreements for the union’s rural and urban workers after 10 months of negotiations.
The rotating strikes, which began Oct. 22, put a halt to mail processing and delivery in impacted areas, typically for about a day. Canada Post mail and packages will not be delivered while strike action is ongoing and residents cannot pick up their mail, either.
But Canada Post has warned customers to expect days-long delays as strike activity continues across the country.
“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,” Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton told the Canadian Press.
“Once processed, these items have to be delivered without overburdening our delivery employees. As a result, customers could see delays of several days.”
The union, which represents 50,000 postal employees, is protesting working conditions, job security and forced overtime, among other issues. The strike update posted on Wednesday reiterated that mediated talks continue between Canada Post and CUPW.
In the Ottawa area, strike action began at 6 a.m. in the national capital and Arnprior-Renfrew.
The City of Ottawa told Global News in a statement earlier this week it had “activated contingency plans” in anticipation of a rotating strike.
Residents and businesses who are expecting an invoice for city services are encouraged to contact the municipality’s accounts receivable department and register for online payments to avoid late payment penalties.
Late last week, the city confirmed it mailed Ontario Works cheques for November ahead of schedule and said any late cheques printed as of Monday will be held for pickup.
Over in the Maritimes, the rotating strikes in Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., kicked off shortly after midnight, local time.
In Quebec, unionized postal workers had walked out in Joliette, St-Jérôme, Sorel, St-Jean, Valleyfield and Vaudreuil-Dorion by 7 a.m.
Union locals in Campbell River, Courtenay, Nanaimo and Port Alberni, B.C., joined them later Wednesday morning, local time.
While a number of new strikes kicked off, several also came to an end on Wednesday morning.
The union said its day-long strike in Montreal ended around midnight. Strike action also ended this morning in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, Sask., and in several communities in B.C. and Ontario.
The locations for the rotating strikes are chosen by the CUPW’s senior leadership, according to the union.
The most recent changes on Wednesday bring the number of union locals participating in strike action to 15:
- Arnprior-Renfrew, Ont.
- Campbell River, B.C.
- Charlottetown, P.E.I.
- Courtenay, B.C.
- Joliette, Que.
- Nanaimo, B.C.
- Ottawa, Ont.
- Port Alberni, B.C.
- Sorel, Que.
- St-Jean, Que.
- St-Jérôme, Que.
- Ste-Thérèse de Blainville, Que.
- Summerside, P.E.I.
- Valleyfield, Que.
- Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que.
Canada Post services and operations continue as normal in all other locations across the country.
— With files from Amanda Connolly, Katie Dangerfield and the Canadian Press