Penticton postal workers up in arms over route changes

Letter carriers see their routes extended, while sorting will be taking place in Vancouver

Letter carriers in Penticton are struggling with their newly extended routes, says the posties’ union leader, while inside workers are nervous about what will happen next month when local mail is sent to Vancouver for sorting.

On Monday, Canada Post adjusted its Penticton routes to more evenly distribute volume among carriers, said spokesperson John Caines.

Routes are based on the volume that can be handled by a worker in an eight-hour day, he explained, which includes the time it takes for that worker to sort the mail, travel to their route and make deliveries.

Caines said customers here shouldn’t notice much of a difference as a result of the adjustments.

“It just may mean if you (used to) get your mail at 10 o’clock in the morning, it might come at 11 or 1 (now),” he said.

Or later.

“I had letter carriers out last night until 7 o’clock delivering mail,” Barb Perry, president of the local branch of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said Thursday.

She said the number of routes in Penticton was reduced by three to 26, and “what they’ve done is they’ve added approximately 100 points of call to each carrier’s route to make it longer.”

Points of call, Perry continued, are houses, offices or anywhere else mail may be dropped, so the extra workload varies by route and “letter carriers are feeling very frustrated right now.”

The route reduction also eliminated 2.5 jobs, and although those posties will be given work elsewhere for now, she said, upcoming retirements mean the positions will eventually be lost through attrition.

Sortation workers are also in limbo, as local mail from throughout the Southern Interior, including Penticton, will be sent to Vancouver for processing as of Nov. 4. Mail bound for places outside the region is already sorted at that plant.

“This is an internal adjustment for us. It’ll be transparent for our customers,” Caines said, adding Canada Post will still meet its commitment to deliver local mail within two days.

“With the highway services going there anyway, we can come back in plenty of time, because there’s lots of capacity at the Vancouver plant.”

Perry is skeptical, because turnaround times will be at the mercy of road conditions, which are unpredictable during the winter.

She also said Canada Post hasn’t yet told her what will happen to the eight people who work at the sortation plant in Penticton. They do have job guarantees, she noted, but will likely have their shifts juggled.