Canada Post late Tuesday shut down its operations nationwide after a week and a half of regional rolling strikes led by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. The decline in mail volume and business, says Canada Post, has resulted in $100 million in losses.

During the rolling strikes, Canada Post had been claiming minor interruptions in service due to the picket lines, but it appears that has added up.

"Rotating strikes have had a significant impact on the short-term revenue of the business," says the Post in an announcement. "Canada Post’s estimated losses are approaching $100 million after today’s strike in Montreal and Toronto and that figure is climbing daily."
The lockout was initiated to push negotiations through to resolution, says Canada Post.

In a statement, the 50,000-member CUPW labels Canada Post’s move as "irresponsible," noting there’s still a considerable amount of mail in the system that’s not getting delivered.

Nevertheless, the union says it has contacted a mediator to arrange an immediate meeting with Canada Post chief executive Deepak Chopra.

In the meantime, Canada Post says the two sides are "far apart" on the issues.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Canada’s government is working on back-to-work legislation to restore service. Notice about the legislation is due later today.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the USPS declined to fully comment on the issue, noting that an official statement was making its way through an approval process. She did reiterate, however, that regardless of whether the strike continues or its duration, U.S. customers can still send letters and packages via the Global Express Guaranteed service. "We have been monitoring the strike very closely and even before the strike began we’ve been in close contact with Canada Post and have had contingency plans in place," she says.

Update: The USPS has since released a statement saying that it’s still accepting mail destined for Canada "at this time. However, if a settlement is not reached by Friday, June 17, between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the U.S. Postal Service will then have to suspend acceptance of all services destined for Canada — except Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) service."

Jim O’Brien, vice president of distribution and postal affairs at Time Inc., says the problem can be acute for weekly magazines. "Some of our magazines have already been produced. What we’ve opted to do is truck them to Canada and hold them in our trucking company’s warehouses."

If the lockout ends quickly, says O’Brien, then the magazines on hold will simply be pushed into Canada Post’s mail stream. "If it’s an extended strike, we’ll be forced to shred those copies and extend the subscribers’ subscriptions."

The strike was initiated by the CUPW June 3 in Winnipeg, beginning a series of 24-hour strikes centered in local communities culminating in Montreal and Toronto on Tuesday, June 14.

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