Edmonton postal workers ask for more coronavirus protections

Mar 27 2020, 1:18 pm

Canada Post has been too slow to implement COVID-19 safety measures, and workers are openly considering refusing to perform their duties in unsafe conditions if the company doesn’t agree to certain precautions by Sunday, Edmonton’s postal worker union says.

Roland Schmidt, Edmonton president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said in a news release that he’s worried about workers at the Edmonton distribution centre becoming infected and passing the virus to their colleagues and delivery clients.

“If just one link breaks, we go from being an essential service┬áto a plague caravan and a substantial danger to the public,” he said.

Schmidt pointed to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where two postal workers tested positive for COVID-19, and all processing and delivery at their depot had to be suspended. It’s a scenario he wants to avoid in Edmonton.

The union’s COVID-19 safety demands include the following:

  • Pausing preparation and delivery of unnecessary mail (e.g., flyers)
  • Staggering shifts to reduce the number of people working at the depot at a time
  • Daily safety reminders to keep two metres apart from colleagues
  • Suspending the use of swipe machines to clock in and out of shifts; workers should report times to their supervisor instead
  • Pausing delivery of heavy parcels that require two workers to lift
  • Adjusting letter sorting so workers don’t need to stand close to each other
  • More time to wash up
  • More frequent facility cleaning

Michael Kobitowich, director of Edmonton mail operations with Canada Post, is in talks with the union about enhancing safety.

Schmidt wants the safety measures to be implemented by midnight on Sunday, March 29.

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