BY BILL PHILLIPS
Spirits were high on the picket lines this morning as Canadian Union of Postal Workers rotating strikes hit Prince George.
It’s the second time the rotating strike action has impacted service in Prince George and the 150 union members in the city. On the weekend, the union rejected an offer from Canada Post for a two-month cooling off period, which would have avoided service disruptions through the Christmas season.
“We did put a counter-offer on the table,” said Clark Rasmussen, president of the Prince George Local 812. “We felt it was a solid offer, that it was something to form a basis to form a contract, but they still refused to come to the table and negotiate some of our big demands.”
Rasmussen said there are health and safety issues that the union wants addressed as well as unpaid work and forced overtime.
“We have the highest injury on duty in the federal workers sector,” he said. “We also have people who are working for hours but not getting paid for it among rural and suburban mail carriers. These are things that need to be addressed.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hinted that legislating workers back to work may be in the cards. Rasmussen says do that would go contrary to what Trudeau campaigned on in the last election.
“He said from the get-go they wanted a fair deal done at the table,” he said. “If he’s true to his word, he should allow us to do that. He also wants to build middle class jobs. Canada Post, for the past few years, has been cutting jobs. That’s why we have these high injury rates.”
Rasmussen said there is a bit of a backlog of mail in Prince George.
“We need to get a deal done soon if we’re going to get Christmas through,” he said. “We’re going to work very hard to get that done, but not at the expense of the health and safety of our workers.”