The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has slammed the Crown corporations, Canada Post, for a lockout of employees, calling it totally irresponsible when it suspended mail operations across the country.

Workers were surprised to be blocked from facilities when they showed up to begin their shifts late Tuesday. Canada Post abruptly locked out its 48,000 urban postal workers, shutting down operations across the country late Tuesday just as rotating strikes ended in Canada's two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal.

Canada Post maintains that it has been forced to stop its urban mail services in the face of the rotating strikes that continued for nearly two weeks costing the corporation an estimated $100 million in revenue. The Crown corporations states that the best way to bring a timely resolution to this impasse is a lockout to resolve the issues as quickly as possible and the union to seriously consider the declining mail volumes and the 3.2-billion pension deficit,

 In a statement released Wednesday morning, Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James said his organization is not yet considering a delay in the mail-in vote.

Elections BC and Canada Post will be meeting today to discuss the postal lock out and discuss ways to lessen the disruption in postal service and how it will affect the province's referendum on the harmonized sales tax. No changes to the referendum timetable are being contemplated at this time, said James in the statement.

Elections BC is continuing production of the HST referendum voting packages to the effect that there should be no delay in getting the packages to registered voters once Canada Post service resumes, he added.

James has said before that if there is a significant delay due to a postal strike or lock out, he would consider extending the dates for the referendum. Ballots in the mail-in referendum began hitting doorsteps this week.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said the situation needed to be reassessed by her staff upon the news of Canada Post locking out employees.

Earlier this week, the federal government intends to rule out back-to work legislation legislation Always we get to sit in the seat of how it affects the national economy and how it affects the general Canadian public interest, Raitt told CTV's Canada AM from Ottawa on Wednesday morning.
And through those two lenses we'll take a look at it and reassess, now knowing that there will be no mail service, which is different than it was the day before.

But Parliament will first deal with the Air Canada strike, before getting to the postal strike next week.

The corporation said Canada Post and CUPW remain far apart on several fundamental issues and there has been no progress made at the negotiating table for weeks.
Canada Post has proposed a two-tier compensation system that would see new employees get paid less than current employees ($19 an hour compared with $24 an hour), fewer days off and a less generous pension plan. To take advantage of new sorting equipment, the post office also wants to make changes to work methods for letter carriers that will allow it to get by with fewer workers in the future.

 While CUPW National President Denis Lemelin noted that pension and social-assistance cheques come out on Monday, which the union had an agreement to deliver. We hope that Canada Post will fulfill this commitment and its responsibility to the public to deliver mail that has been paid for, he said.

Although the labour dispute does not include rural postal workers, who fall under a different contract, even the post office has acknowledged that a prolonged lockout could mean they would eventually have fewer mail deliveries.