Thursday April 17, 2014

1,000 sign up against postal cuts

Petition will be sent to Ottawa in protest
Keith Anderson

CUPW Local 758 president Bob Mitchell holds petitions against measures being taken to reduce customer service at Canada Post.

At least a thousand people angered by drastic service cuts to Canada Post have signed a Canadian Union of Postal Workers' petition bound for Ottawa by the middle of the month.

Copies of the petition will be collected within the week and mailed to New Democrat MP Olivia Chow on Dec. 20, said CUPW Local 758 president Bob Mitchell.

Mitchell wants Chow to submit the petition in Parliament and put pressure on the government and Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod to take "a serious second look" at the cuts made to Canada Post, he said Sunday.

"If you've been to the downtown Seymour Street location, it's grossly different than what it was before," said Mitchell.

That location, the city's main post office, had service counters reduced from three to one earlier in the fall, a move that's prompted public outcry.

Whether the petition restores services or prompts an end to the cuts, Mitchell can't say. But he said the people of Kamloops have spoken loud and clear, and that means something.

"The Conservatives have a habit of not really listening to people below the Prime Minister's Office," said Mitchell.

"We don't think Cathy McLeod is going to represent the best interest of this riding. We don't think she's done a very good job so far."

The petition is the union's response to one of McLeod's mailouts asking constituents if they would accept some form of reduced service. McLeod got 500 of 30,000 questionnaires back. Of those, about 300 indicated they would, said Mitchell.

"I don't think 300 people on a Conservative mailer . . . represents the wishes of 80,000 residents in Kamloops," he said.

The downsizing of the downtown post office was announced a couple of weeks after the mailer came back.

McLeod was en route to Ottawa on Sunday and could not be reached for comment. In October, she told The Daily News results of her survey in no way contributed to cuts at the downtown post office.

Union employees can't distribute a petition on the job, so members collected signatures on their own time and copies of the petition were distributed to downtown businesses.

A copy was delivered to Erwin's Fine Baking owner Shawn Haley. Haley has a notice board in his St. Paul Street shop and likes to support community initiatives.

Erwin's sells stamps, but there has been dwindling demand for them, said Haley, adding electronic communication has had an impact.

"Let's face it, mail has taken a hard hit," he said. "Email has finished that off."

Former NDP candidate Michael Crawford commended Mitchell and the union local for fighting for what he says is a senseless endeavour on the part of Stephen Harper's government.

"Good for Bob Mitchell and the local CUPW guys for bringing this to people's attention, and good for them for pushing this along," he said, adding public service shouldn't be about the bottom line.

Canada Post has made it clear it wants to cut services to improve its financial situation. The Crown corporation reported a $104-million loss in August, saying the decline is the result of a historic shift to digital communications.

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