Josie and owner

Josie and owner

Locked out — no mail delivery today

Residents will neither be able return to sender nor tell a loved one the letter is in the mail as Canada Post Corporation locked out its employees Tuesday night.

Residents will neither be able return to sender nor tell a loved one the letter is in the mail as Canada Post Corporation locked out its employees Tuesday night.

And as for those HST ballots, thousands of them were being stored in post offices across B.C. until the lockout is resolved.

Elections BC has prepared a contingency plan for post office disruptions, as officials try to get more than three million ballots delivered to homes across the province by June 24.

The lockout affects most Canada Post operations with the exception of those postal workers who operate under rural service delivery contracts (approximately 15 in Williams Lake) which remain in effect.

Those workers will continue to deliver the mail that remains at the outlets.

However, no new mail will be arriving at the post office due to the lockout. Therefore, those deliveries will be short lived.

On Monday the company announced a reduction in delivery service to three days a week. To update the public the local office held information pickets throughout Tuesday.

The situation escalated later that day and by 8 p.m. Pacific time the corporation had announced its intent to lockout its employees nationwide.

The local office was officially alerted when workers showed up for their 4 a.m. shift and were told by company representatives they were not allowed inside.

“What will unfold over the next day, two days, in the weeks to come is unclear. These things will grow legs,” said Ivan Bonnell, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 854, as he picketed outside the downtown Williams Lake office Wednesday morning.

CUPW and Canada Post began bargaining in October 2010; CUPW members have been without a contract since Jan. 31.

Some of the issues of contention are: lower wages for new hires, a change in pension plan, an increase in health and dental insurance premiums and the removal of job security that occurs as a result of technological change.

Bonnell says the union made “major” concessions in bargaining in both 2003 and 2007 and doesn’t think its prepared to this time around.

“This round pinching of the nose isn’t going to help anymore. It smells,” he said, adding if the current situation is left up to the parties he predicts it will be a “long haul.”

“This is not going to be an easy process or expeditiously solved given the history we (union and Canada Post) has.”

— With files from Tom Fletcher