Lockout hurts fundraiser
By TONY RICCIUTO Niagara Falls Review
Updated 2 days ago
For Bob Prankard, the Canada Post lockout couldn’t have come at a worse time.
His son, Wes, is in the final push to raise money to build a playground in Attawapiskat. Wes is walking a total of 1,287 kilometres, which is the distance between Niagara Falls and Attawapiskat, and is asking for 1,000 people to sponsor him for $10.
“We’ve received messages from people from as far away as Florida, saying that they’ve dropped a cheque in the mail,” said Bob. “With approximately $7,800 left to raise, this could really prove as a major challenge to his efforts.”
On Wednesday, the federal government said it plans to legislate an end to the postal strike. That came hours after Canada Post locked out workers who had been staging rotating strikes.
Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are engaged in a contract dispute and each side is blaming the other for not being able to reach a settlement.
Key issues include pensions, wages as well as health and safety matters.
CUPW launched a series of 24-hour rotating strikes, which the company says has cost them millions in lost revenue. On Wednesday, workers in Niagara Falls showed up for work and found they had been locked out.
Mark Thomson, secretary-treasurer for CUPW Local 574 in Niagara Falls, said his members went to work prepared to deliver mail on Wednesday.
“They have done something that is totally irresponsible by locking out their workers who came in and wanted to work today,” said Thomson. “The lockout has trapped a lot of mail in the system, which people have paid for, and it shows a lot of disrespect for their workers and customers of Canada Post.”
While Canada Post says mail volumes are down by 50% and it has been losing money, the union argues that’s simply not the case.
“If they would let you go inside the building and see how much mail is stacked up at everybody’s desk to deliver, it’s unbelievable. We haven’t had that much mail in years,” said Thomson.
“That mail should have been delivered today, but it’s sitting in different postal facilities because they locked everybody out last night.”
Some people who drove past the Queen St., post office Wednesday shouted nasty remarks at mail carriers walking the picket line, while some other drivers waved their arms or honked their horns to show their support for the workers.
“This is not a case like GM where they were losing money and they needed to have concessions. Canada Post is making money. We hope the public realizes we want to go to work, but they are not allowing us to do that,” said Thomson.
Paula DeWilde is another resident who has been impacted by the strike. She has hundreds of dollars worth of medical prescription receipts that need to be mailed to her insurance company, so she can be reimbursed for money she has spent from her own pocket.
The insurance company will not accept a fax of the receipts and the only other option she has is to send them out by courier service, which costs a lot more than the mail.
She also makes purchases through Ebay at different times and a number of items that she bought recently are sitting waiting to be delivered.
“Right now, I’m very alarmed because I have items being sent to me and they are just stuck somewhere in no man’s land,” said DeWilde.
Peggy Tedder Thompson said she mailed a Father’s Day gift, paid extra for next day delivery and now it’s sitting in a mail room.
John Law, finds himself in the same situation. He wants his $8 back from Canada Post because that’s why he paid extra to have his gift delivered to his father on time.
“They took that money with no problem, are they going to give it back to me with no problem? I’m paying extra for that guarantee,” said Law.
And just because there’s a mail strike, people are being reminded they still need to pay their utility bills on time.
Margaret Battista, vice-president of customer services for Niagara Peninsula Energy, said the company has taken steps to ensure both their customers and vendors will be looked after during the strike.
Billing and pre-authorized payments will continue on schedule. Every attempt is being made to ensure that bills are delivered to commercial properties. Collection action will be adjusted to account for no mail services.
Payments can be made a number of ways, including online banking, at financial institutions, by courier or dropping it off at their office at 7447 Pin Oak Dr. or 2676 Clifford St., in Smithville.
Customers can check their website at www.npei.ca for updates and information on how to sign up for electronic billing and payments.