Canada Post workers in more than a dozen cities across B.C. walked off the job on Monday morning, as part of the union’s rotating strikes that began last week.
In a series of posts on social media, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers announced strikes in Surrey, Squamish, Chilliwack and Maple Ridge early Monday morning.
As of noon, they were joined by postal workers in Langley, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Abbotsford, New Westminster, Mission, Aldergrove, Delta and Prince George.
There would be no mail pickup delivery or pickup in the striking cities.
On the picket line in Chilliwack, local president Peter Butcher said also affected are Hope, Agassiz, Boston Bar and Manning Park.
Workers held CUPW signs in front of the Yale Road post office, some walking around the block. One sign said: “Canada Post. 1st in parcels. 1st in injuries.”
Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton said the company remains “committed to the bargaining process” and that a federally-appointed mediator is helping with negotiations.
Hamilton said the employer had made “significant” offers to the union, including better wages, benefits, and job security, without asking for concessions.
The union has said workers are striking for job security, better health and safety measures, an end to forced overtime, and service expansion and equality for rural and suburban mail carriers.
In a statement to Black Press Media, the union said Canada Post’s offers “don’t address a single one” of their issues.
“The wage increases Canada Post so proudly talks about are well-below the expected inflation rate,” the union said.
“Management even refuses to address the urgent health and safety issues that have left postal workers the most injured group of workers in the federal sector.”
Monday’s strikes come on top of the 3,400 postal workers who went on strike in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond.
Canada Post said that those workers had since returned to their jobs.
Rotating strikes had been announced earlier in Victoria.
Elections BC said that the strikes have not changed the dates for the planned referendum.
Spokesperson Andrew Watson confirmed that all voters are still expected to receive their ballots by Nov. 2 and are expected to mail them in before Nov. 30.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and we have some contingency within our planned delivery dates,” Watson said.
“But the chief electoral officer could extend the dates [past Nov. 30].”
Watson said that Elections BC was receiving plenty of calls and social media comments about their voting packages, but urged voters to be patient.
He said voters who don’t receive a package by Nov. 2 should ask for one by Nov. 23 by visiting the website, by calling 1-800-661-8683, visiting a Service BC centre or the soon-to-be opened referendum service centres in the Lower Mainland.
B.C. residents who’ve ordered pot from the province’s online cannabis store shouldn’t feel the impact of the strikes.
In a statement, the branch said it was monitoring the strikes closely but said the job action “will have little impact” on cannabis deliveries.
– files from Paul Henderson