The postal workers’ rotating strikes took a turn in Maple Ridge on Monday as picket lines formed across the driveway of the delivery centre on Lougheed Highway.
Many passing motorists honked in support as clerks and mail carriers waved at the passing traffic. Between 50 and 60 people work at the Canada Post delivery centre.
“I think the public understands,” said Alvaro De La Cruz, president of New Westminster local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Health and safety, along with wage parity for the rural and suburban mail carriers, who don’t get paid as much as urban ones, are the top issues, said De La Cruz.
Posties are getting injured because of the greater workloads, he added, likely because of the growth in online shopping.
“Health and safety of our members is at the forefront of our demands right now,” De La Cruz said Monday at the Maple Ridge delivery centre on Lougheed and 208th Street.
The average carrier delivers between 70 to 100 parcels a day. That often requires forced overtime, in order to ensure the mail gets where it’s going. Instead, the union wants the routes reorganized and more people hired.
“They’re getting injured and they’re getting tired,” added De La Cruz.
Injuries include falls, sprains, and strains caused by working at a fast pace.
Postal workers have five times the rate of injuries of other federal workers.
Union vice president Brooke Mousseau said postal workers want Canada Post to succeed and are glad it’s busy.
“We embrace the work,” she added.
Urban postal workers start at about $19 an hour and over a period of seven years, top out at about $26 an hour.
De La Cruz said that a postal review several years ago showed that the post office still was important to Canadians.
Monday’s strikes come on top of the 3,400 postal workers who walked off the job last week in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond, and have since returned.
In a series of posts on social media, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers announced strikes in Surrey, Squamish, Chilliwack and Maple Ridge.
De La Cruz doesn’t know how long the picket lines will be up, adding that the national office will make that decision.