Businesses brace for postal lockout or strike Saturday

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Businesses and governments are preparing for the worst as the clock ticks down to a work stoppage at Canada Post.

Derek Richmond,  CUPW’s Ontario Region Coordinator, says negotiations between the two unions at the postal service and the corporation have been very difficult and he fears Canada Post will lock out the workers starting July 2 – the first opportunity by law.

Richmond says CUPW is concerned about pay equity for urban and rural mail carriers. Richmond says the rural workers get “paid less and they are predominately women and in urban areas they are immigrants…we want equity in pay for the exact same job.”

Canada Post is facing an uncertain future. Business has been dropping steadily as more people use email and e-banking to do business instead of the mail. The corporation is looking to vacation time but Richmond says the union believes its time to look a new revenue streams.

“We want to expand parcel delivery to weekends…we want to expand into postal banking and provide banking at retail outlets,” he says. “We think it could generate a lot of revenue.” And Richmond says that revenue could restore door-to-door delivery which has already been lost.

Richmond says the talks are continuing but Canada Post has already alerted its largest customers of a coming work stoppage. “It’s all being prepared in the background,” he says adding there is no indication how long the lockout could last.

Richmond is hoping he doesn’t have to find out. “We want to bargain in good faith and we want to continue to bargain in good faith. I don’t feel Canada Post should lock us out; we should continue to work on a fair collective agreement.”

But while the union hopes for the best, local business people and governments prepare for the worst.

The County of Lambton set up temporary kiosks to distribute Ontario Works cheques  “Most people receive their payments by direct bank deposit and for these people, it will be business as usual,” said Jane Dalziel, Manager, Ontario Works. in a news release  “However, those who typically receive their cheque by mail will need to visit the temporary distribution centre in the Bayside Mall in downtown Sarnia.”The temporary distribution centre will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 29 and Thursday, June 30.  Identification is required in order to pick up cheques.  The distribution centre will be located in Training Room 2/3 on the second floor of Lambton Shared Services Centre at Bayside Mall.

Businesses are also preparing Matt Pasut of Country Road Graphics in Wyoming depends on Canada Post for his business. He prepares and distributes direct ad mail through Canada Post. “We’ve basically put everything on hold in terms of printing and distribution,” he says adding he’s looking for other means to get his customers business to consumers.

And at The Independent, plans are in the works for a temporary newspaper carrier force to get the newspaper to the doors of homes in Petrolia, Wyoming, Oil Springs, and Oil City.

Publisher Heather Wright says extra copies of The Independent will be made available at local retail outlets to meet the demand for those who don’t receive a paper in their mail box.