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Rotating Canada Post strikes hit western Newfoundland

Canada Post workers Brent Mahoney, left, and Darrell Vincent walk the picket line outside the depot on Maple Valley Road in Corner Brook Monday as their union, Local 039, took its turn participating in rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Canada Post workers Brent Mahoney, left, and Darrell Vincent walk the picket line outside the depot on Maple Valley Road in Corner Brook Monday as their union, Local 039, took its turn participating in rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. - Gary Kean

The president of the local postal workers union in Corner Brook says the city’s relatively new depot is still a sore point for them.

Greg Standing was among the nearly 50 members of Local 039 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers who did their duty on the picket line as workers across the country continued rotating strikes one minute after midnight Monday morning.

Postal workers in western Newfoundland also took job action in Humber Arm South, Stephenville, Deer Lake, Port aux Basques and St. Anthony. They were also out in the Exploits Valley, Gander-Lewisporte and Carbonear areas.

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Standing said health and safety is among the main outstanding issues at the bargaining table. In Corner Brook, he said that has a lot to do with the current location of the Canada Post outlet in the Timco Mall building on Maple Valley Road.

Canada Post moved to the leased space from the building it owned on Main Street in Corner Brook in 2013.

Postal employees, from left, Jana Kendall, William Humphrey and Judy Foley on the picket line outside the Deer Lake regional post office on Monday.
Postal employees, from left, Jana Kendall, William Humphrey and Judy Foley on the picket line outside the Deer Lake regional post office on Monday.

“There are so many health and safety issues with that building,” Standing said Monday. “The building setup is all wrong and there are issues with all kinds of stuff inside the building as well as the outside. This has been an ongoing issue since we moved up there.”

When asked for an example, Standing said there are standing forklift chargers that are inappropriately placed in the docking area. He said the whole operation was jammed into a space not made for a post office sorting operation.

Prior to the change, Canada Post had said it was making modifications to the building to accommodate its operations there.

“They’re in the midst now of changing the inside of the building, which I don’t know how long it’s going to take them to do,” said Standing.

The other issues the workers are fighting to have addressed include job security, pay equity and overburdening of letter carriers.

Standing said 1.5 jobs were cut form the Corner Brook depot earlier this year, meaning the remaining workers have to do extra work to cover for the drop in human resources.

“All we want is our eight-hour work day,” he said. “We don’t want forced (overtime) any more. We had a big issue with forced OT in the Corner Brook area for a number of years. We finally have a little bit of casual staff but, on any given day, we could be forced out on OT.”

Local 039 represents around 30 full-time workers, six part-time staff and another dozen or so call-in/casual employees.

Standing said Monday he and his co-workers would be on strike for at least 24 hours, but were awaiting word from their national office about whether their turn to walk the picket lines would be any longer than that.

The Western Star requested an interview with Canada Post about what Standing had to say concerning working conditions in Corner Brook. There was no reply as of deadline Monday.

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