-- Wednesday, June 15, 2011 --
Dozens of letter carriers stoodwith placards and signs outsidethe Maple Ridge Delivery Centreon Lougheed Highway Tuesdaymorning to protest Canada Post’sdecision to cut mail service tothree days a week.The 48,000 members of the Ca-nadian Union of Postal Workers,which include local letter carriersand retail employees, have beenwithout a contract since May 30after the union rejected an offerfrom Canada Post. That contractoffer would have seen the creationof a two-tier wage scale, reducingstarting wages to $17 from close to$23 an hour.As of this week, Canada Posthas reduced mail delivery to Mon-days, Wednesdays, and Fridays inurban areas, and reduced stafﬁnglevels at mail processing plantsacross the country. Priority itemswill still be delivered ﬁve days aweek.Most of Maple Ridge will be af-fected by the service reductions.Pitt Meadows, Whonnock, Ruskin,Rock Ridge, Silver Valley andother neighbourhoods servicedby rural and suburban carrierswill not be affected, however, asthose carriers belong to a differ-ent union.Canada Post claims the servicereductions are to meant to helpthe Crown corporation recoupmounting ﬁnancial losses after ro-tating strikes by Canadian Unionof Postal Workers began twoweeks ago. Since rotating strikesbegan, roughly 30 per cent of thecountry has experienced servicedisruption.The uncertainty of where postalworkers will strike from day-to-day has made it difﬁcult to planlogistics and transportation, aswell as stafﬁng levels, accordingto Canada Post.Joe Whitney, picketing in MapleRidge on Tuesday, works in PortCoquitlam and said he’s been toldif he can’t deliver the mail in eighthours to hold it until the next day.“We’re here wanting to work,”said Dee Buchanan, another post-al worker. “They’re not lettingus.”Should rotating strikes contin-ue, Canada Post won’t be able tosustain its operations across thecountry, Canada Post stated inpress release Tuesday.“Canada Post is disappointedwith the union’s refusal to acceptthe company’s fair and reasonableoffer – one that provides job secu-rity, a deﬁned beneﬁts pensionplan and annual wage increases.Therefore, the company is urgingthe union to accept its offer andnot cause further inconvenienceto Canadians.”However, CUPW president DenisLemelin claims Canada Post ishoping the government will forcea contract on postal workers.“Canada Post is doing every-thing it can to provoke the unioninto a national walkout in the hopethe government will intervene,”Lemelin said in a press releaseMonday. “They are not interestedin negotiating with us to end thisstrike. They want to force postalworkers to take concessions.”So far, local post ofﬁces have notbeen targeted for strike action.The Whonnock post ofﬁce ineast Maple Ridge is one that won’tbe effected by strike action.“It should be business as usual,”says Sue Schulze, who managesthe Whonnock post ofﬁce. “Itmight take a little bit longer foryour mail to get where it’s going,but it’s really not effecting anyonethat much.”CUPW Local 704 president CindyMcDonnell, who represents localpostal workers, said the two-tierwage scale Canada Post has pro-posed is troubling, and that work-ers are most concerned about thehealth and safety impacts of thecontract.In an effort to modernize thedelivery of mail, Canada Posthas included provisions that willresult in letter carriers having tocarry more at once, leaving themoverburdened as they walk theirroutes.“They already tried this in Win-nipeg, and injuries went throughthe roof,” said McDonnell. “Lettercarriers already account for 76per cent of the injuries [sufferedby] Canada Post employees.”Canada Post has also stoppedpaying out extended medical ben-eﬁts to employees since the previ-ous contract expired two weeksago.“This is having a serious impacton the health of postal workers,”she said.Canada Post says it must ad-dress labour costs as a result of a 17 per cent drop in letter-mailbusiness since 2006 due to a risein online bill payments and otherelectronic communications.However, McDonnell contendsthat mail volumes have stayedsteady in B.C.“Certainly the make-up of themail has changed; there are not asmany letters,” she said. “But thereis also been an increase of onlineordering, and more ad mail.”The last postal strike was in1997, when posties walked out fortwo weeks before being legislatedback to work.
– with ﬁles from Jeff Nagel
Canada Post cuts delivery service
Postal workers,including HjordisEriksen,holding herdog Coco, holdan informationpicket outsideCanada PostTuesdaymorning.
Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Maple Ridgenot takingdown HSTsigns
Rural, suburban routes willnot be afected, however
She pointed out the signs, whichread Vote YES: Extinguish theHST, were funded by the $225,000that FightHST got from the pro-vincial government.“It’s the public who paid for thosesigns. It’s just a huge issue in B.C.right now. It’s one way of commu-nicating our side of the debate andthey’re preventing us from doingthat. It’s awful. It’s against ourcivil rights.”Bell also spent ﬁve hours puttingup signs in Maple Ridge, alongLougheed Highway and DewdneyTrunk Road and other streetsthen saw they too, about 200, weregone when she took her daughterto work.“Yesterday they were there. To-day they’re not. It’s just so upset-ting.”But District of Maple Ridgespokesman Fred Armstrong saidstaff haven’t removed any signs.“None of our people have takenany of them. We do consider themsort of an election sign.”Armstrong said political andelection signs are exempt underthe district’s sign bylaw and thesefall into that category. The onlytime staff will touch a sign is if there are safety concerns.The signs urge people to voteyes in the mail-in ballot in Juneand July to dump the HST andreturn to ﬁve per cent Goods andServices Tax and a seven-per-centprovincial sales tax.Bell said in the run-up to the May2 federal election, she saw cam-paign signs in Pitt Meadows butDarcus pointed out the city wouldhave had to have a complaint toremove them. Many election signsare located on private property,she added.Bell added Monday that afterSurrey reversed its policy andChilliwack allowed the HST signs,“Pitt Meadows is the only area thatis refusing to take any signs.”Bell said she was proud to live inMaple Ridge.“We’ve left messages with coun-cillors of Pitt Meadows, so I hopeto have some return phone calls.”Premier Christy Clark’s ofﬁceannounced Friday that the federalgovernment has amended its regu-lations, allowing B.C. to reduce theHST to 10 per cent by July 2014.HST ballot packages must bereceived by Elections BC, a Ser-vice BC centre, or an Elections BCcollection centre before 4:30 p.m.,July 22,
Elections B.C. has posted a list o loca-tions on its website (
) o where voters can drop of HSTreerendum ballots i they’re concernedabout mail deliveries. The ballots aresupposed to be mailed out to house-holds starting June 13 in most o ruralB.C. and starting June 20 in the LowerMainland. They must be received byElections B.C. by July 22.
& Lougheed • 205
& Dewdney • 12473 Harris Road