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Canadians could be faced with a summer postal lockout

Last Updated Jun 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm EDT

Canadians could return from the Canada Day long weekend to find themselves without postal service, according to the union representing letter carriers.

Many Canadians began receiving notices in some of their bills this month warning them about a work stoppage at Canada Post and making alternate plans in order to avoid late fees.

Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), tells CityNews they’ve been sounding the alarm about this for several months ever since Canada Post applied for conciliation help back in April at the start of negotiations.

“Every indication that we have right now is that Canada Post is preparing to lock us out sometime in early July,” said Palecek. “The earliest they could legally do that is July 2.”

“We’re hoping to get a negotiated, collective agreement. But we’re not sure Canada Post has that same goal.”

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Jon Hamilton, a spokeperson with Canada Post, says they understand Canadians do not want a disruption in service. At the same time, their goal is to reach a settlement that’s fair to the employees, affordable to the corporation and doesn’t burden customers with extra costs.

“Canadians are changing the way they’re using the postal system and we need to adjust,” explained Hamilton.

“Today we deliver five days a week on a normal period, during business hours. Online shoppers are going online, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, so our old model doesn’t really fit the new way people are shopping.”

CUPW says they’ve tried to get Canada Post to address the future and talk about services Canadians need, such as postal banking.

“They’ve refused to talk about these,” said Palecek.”Their approach is to keep cutting jobs, cutting services and they think they can cut their way to growth and we’re telling them that’s just not going to happen.”

A labour disruption in 2011 lasted nearly three weeks before the Conservative government passed back-to-work legislation which the Supreme Court of Ontario later found to be unjust.