Dozens of people attended a rally at City Hall Monday afternoon as a work stoppage by local postal workers puts a halt to mail service across London.
Karen Finlay-Russell, president of the London local of Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), told Global News Radio 980 CFPL that demonstrations like Monday’s display at 300 Dufferin Ave., which later moved to the mail depot on Wellington Street, will help bring an end to the labour dispute.
“I truly think that if we put enough pressure on, it will happen,” Finlay-Russell said. “I do think that there is some people in Ottawa with CPC that are kind of pushing for that, so we just need to help push and get it done.”
She said they’re fighting to improve working conditions, which have deteriorated over the past several years.
“I actually had a letter carrier call me and I cried when she talked to me, quiet frankly, because she said, ‘My kids think that I’m a bad mom because I don’t get home until after they go to bed and I’m gone in the morning before they get up,’ and it was the saddest story I’ve ever heard, and that’s the reality of our letter carriers here in London,” Finlay-Russell said.
Local postal worker Pauline Peterson agreed work has been very stressful over the past several years.
“Our routes are starting to become very long. They’re becoming overburdened. Our parcel volumes are through the roof, and we most certainly have a health and safety issue going on at Canada Post and we need them to fix it,” Peterson said.
London-Fanshawe NDP MP Irene Mathyssen attended the rally to show her support for the workers.
“We need the post office. It’s an important crown corporation. Not only do they deliver letters and parcels, but Canada Post could become the postal bank of the 21st century,” Mathyssen said.
Several other local politicians also attended the rally, including councillor-elect in ward 2 Shawn Lewis, councillor-elect in ward 12 Elizabeth Peloza, and NDP MPP for London North Centre Terence Kernaghan.
The union, which represents 50,000 postal employees, is demanding improvements in health and safety, gender equality, and service expansions including postal banking.
It’s unclear exactly when the strike will end, but the union says its members walked out just past midnight in London, the GTA and St. Catharines, as well as in six communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
CUPW members have been striking on a rotating basis since Oct. 22, in an effort to put pressure on Canada Post as the two parties try to negotiate new collective agreements for unionized urban and rural workers.
Canada Post said Sunday the rotating strikes have impacted operations in more than 70 communities across the country, causing backlogs that could delay mail delivery to its customers for several days.
The crown corporation said it has made “significant offers” to the union, including “increased wages, job security and improved benefits,” without asking for any concessions.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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