The national strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is now under way and the union is using rolling work stoppages in major cities instead of a nation wide strike that would cause Canada Post to grind to a halt.
According to the CUPW’s representative in Prince Rupert, Paula Picard, there is no immediate plans that she’s aware of to have a work stoppage in Prince Rupert, but the call could come at any time.
“They’re still at the table, still negotiating. In my opinion, as long as they are at the table I think they will continue with only rotating strikes. But I don’t know, any direction I get comes from national,” says Picard.
Since Prince Rupert has a number of people who depend on income assistance or their pension for their income, it’s important for people to understand that despite the strike the postal workers have volunteered to deliver one day out of the month in order to make sure that people will get their cheques. This doesn’t apply to other cheques however, so people who are still waiting for their income tax return are out of luck if the union calls for a full on work stoppage.
If the 30 or so unionized postal workers in Prince Rupert do go on strike, picketing will be limited mostly to the main Canada Post headquarters downtown, where residents can expect all the entrances to be blocked by picket lines. They’ve also been given support by the local the fishermen’s union and teacher’s union.
The fact that there are no immediate plans for postal service in the area to stop is good news for local government and business operations in the area. Local government such as the City of Prince Rupert or the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District are among the organizations who still do most of their official correspondence by sending letters instead of e-mail. The regional district, for instance, sends and receives over a dozen official letters to and from other governments and organizations.
The Prince Northern View asked staff at their offices if they had a backup plan that would allow government offices to keep working if the postal service stops. Both levels of government officially declined to comment but the office workers we did talk to said they were not aware of any contingency plan. The only place that appeared to have a plan already worked out was the Prince Rupert Port Authority.