Rotating Canada Post strikes in four cities, including Victoria, began Monday after months of negotiations.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said strikes will last for 24 hours with different locations striking daily. On Monday, postal worker strikes took place in Victoria, Edmonton, Windsor and Halifax.
About 60 picketers could be seen outside the Canada Post office on Glanford Avenue in Saanich.
Jessica Dempster, the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Victoria Chapter, said the union has been in negotiations with Canada Post for almost a year.
“We just haven’t seen any real movement from them at the bargaining table,” Dempster said.
She said mail delivery in Victoria will be delayed by one day but will resume on Tuesday.
“What we’re hoping to achieve with the rotating strikes is to put pressure on Canada Post to negotiate but to minimize the impact on our customers,” Dempster said.
On Sunday, the union released a statement that said its main demands are job security, better health and safety measures, service expansion, an end to forced overtime and equality for rural and suburban mail carriers.
“There’s been a big increase in parcel volumes in the past few years so we’re having trouble getting the product processed and out onto the street because Canada Post just isn’t staffing,” Dempster said. “For our outside workers … the real problem is overburdening, forced overtime and an exponential increase in our injury rates.”
Dempster said an increase in online shopping has led to more parcel delivery to customers as opposed to letters. And while she said the spike in business is a good problem to have, Canada Post needs to make some changes to keep up.
To meet the demand, Dempster said postal workers are working much longer hours and she said she believes that is causing an increase in injuries like slips, trips and falls.
“If we’re already scheduled to be working until 5:30 [p.m.] or 6 and we throw into that two or three hours of overtime we’ve got carriers out on the street until 9 o’clock,” Dempster said. “Those conditions are not safe.”
Dempster said she hopes the public understands the union is disappointed to be on the line and that they hoped it would not get this far.
“We’re doing everything possible to do this in a way that minimizes the impact on our customers,” Dempster said.
Canada Post did not return a request for comment on Monday.
– With files from Arnold Lim