Canada Post operations have been shut down as a result of contract negotiations with the Canada Union of Postal Workers.
This comes after twelve days of rotating strikes by union members across Canada and just two days after the corporation cut hours for offices to just three days a week.
In Grand Forks, Gregg Anderson, vice-president of CUPW local 746, said the workers were pretty shocked when they found out they’d be locked out, on Tuesday night. He said that they’ve seen a lot of support from the community.
“The lockout itself has been amazing, because of the support here in the community we’ve seen,” Anderson said.
“It’s been much more than I would have thought actually, not because anything that we’re doing is wrong, but because people really care a lot more than we though. Today’s been a very positive experience; the support of the community is very much appreciated.”
He is not happy, however, with the news that they may be legislated back in to work as early as Monday by the federal government.
“They’ve just announced that they’ve given 48 hours notice to legislate us back to work, so we’re not too happy with that,” Anderson said.
“We think that we should allow for the bargaining process to happen without the government stepping in.”
Canada Post said that the lockout is to expedite the negotiation process.
“We reassessed the situation last night and came to a decision that we needed to do something to really try to push the issue and bring about a timely resolution,” said Eugene Knapik, a spokesperson for Canada Post.
Knapik said that the twelve days of rotating strikes have been very problematic for the company.
“We’ve estimated revenue losses approaching $100 million to date and that figures been climbing,” he said.
“As well it’s been very, very difficult to schedule staff; to schedule the network.”
He said that there have also been some incidents that have raised concerns about Canada Post’s ability to move the mail while keeping their employees and customers safe.
Knapik couldn’t comment on any details of those incidents, saying only that they were concerned and want to keep customers safe.
Knapik said that Canada Post is hoping to get a settlement as quickly as possible.
“We haven’t been making a lot of progress at the negotiating tables and we felt that this was the best way to bring about a timely resolution to the impasse,” he said.
“We are trying to get the union to consider proposals that address our changing business realities.”
He said these realities include declining mail volumes and a $3.2 million pension deficit.
“We have an attractive offer, we think, on the table and we’re trying to get the union to give it some serious consideration.”
Knapik added he couldn’t speculate on what the government would do as a result of the lockout.