Canadian Postal Workers Plan Protest

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A nonviolent protest will take place June 19 at Canada Post's Ottawa headquarters if the country's postal service does not come forward with its strategic plan.

That was the message yesterday from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, a union whose 54,000 members work mainly for Canada Post as rural and suburban mail carriers, mail service couriers, postal clerks, mail handlers, mail dispatchers, technicians, mechanics, electricians and electronic technicians.

"Recent problems with rural route delivery and the Quebec City plant closure show Canada Post's troubling tendency to make decisions that hurt workers and community members without any kind of forewarning," said Deborah Bourque, CUPW national president. "That's why we're demanding Canada Post's planning documents and why we're prepared to use nonviolent civil disobedience to get those documents on June 19th."

About 100 union members trained in civil disobedience would take part in the action, and no work stoppage would occur, CUPW organizer Philippe Duhamel said.

Canada Post has said that it has shared details about any of its plans with the union and the public numerous times.

"We don't have any secret plans to look for," said John Caines, a Canada Post spokesman. "We meet the unions regularly. Our president met with [the CUPW] president two or three weeks ago."

Mr. Caines attributed the union's concern solely to the Quebec City plant closing, "but we gave them 2 1/2 years notice on this closure. How much more transparent can you get?" No jobs will be lost from the closing, he said, and all service standards will be met.

The civil disobedience is part of the union's "Operation Transparency" campaign, developed after Canada Post announced with little consultation last summer that it would close its mail-sorting plant in Quebec City and review its entire network of post offices and plants. More than 800 municipalities, 130,000 petitioners, thousands of postal workers and many Parliament members expressed concern about plans to dismantle other facilities.

The union said it also is concerned about a relatively new Canada Post policy that curtails rural mail delivery as a temporary measure based on safety concerns for its drivers. But Canada Post has promised publicly to work with Canadians to minimize disruption and inconvenience in mail delivery.

In March, Ms. Bourque asked Canada Post president/CEO Moya Greene to disclose by May 15 the company's plans to restructure the nation's postal processing system. The union suggested then that its effort would include "nonviolent civil disobedience" and "search and seizure" tactics, citing civil rights causes as a source of inspiration.

The union hoped Canada Post would share current and future plans at the postal service's annual public meeting June 13, but it did not happen, Mr. Duhamel said.

"Canada Post is a Crown corporation owned by the public, so it's time for Canada Post to be transparent," Mr. Duhamel said.

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