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Postal union issues strike notice on eve of marijuana legalization

Last Updated Oct 16, 2018 at 5:54 pm EST

A Canada Post employee climbs into a mail truck in Halifax on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says it has given strike notice to Canada Post that workers could walk off the job as early as next week.

The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says rotating strikes will begin Monday if agreements aren’t reached with the Urban Postal Operations and Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers bargaining units.

It says it’s pushing for improved job security, an end to forced overtime, and better health and safety measures.

Locations of the rotating strikes have yet to be determined.

The possibility of a work stoppage has hovered over Canada Post since Sept. 26 after postal workers voted overwhelmingly in late summer in support of a potential walkout to back their contract demands.

Canada Post is the biggest parcel shipping company in the country, having delivered about one million parcels per day during the holiday season last year — an increase of 20 per cent over the same period in 2016.

Job action could throw a wrench into marijuana deliveries once its legalized on Wednesday.

Purolator, which is largely owned by Canada Post, declined to comment on whether it will be able to step in if a strike goes ahead.

Major U.S. delivery companies won’t necessarily be available to help step in.

United Parcel Service said that while it delivers medical cannabis within Canada it has no plans at this time to extend its service beyond that. Fedex’s service guide bans shipments of cannabis by default and a spokesman declined to say if the company makes exceptions.