Dozens of mailboxes deemed unsafe

Dave Bartlett
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Postal union says it didn't know changes were coming

Delivery to 76 private mailboxes like these in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's is being suspended by Canada Post for safety reasons. The union representing postal workers said the decision was taken without consultation with its members. - Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The local branch of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) says Canada Post failed to consult it before deciding to stop service to 76 rural mailboxes in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's.

Mike McDonald, the recording secretary for CUPW Local 126 and vice-president of the District Labour Council, told The Telegram one of the town's carriers reported a safety issue with a single private mailbox, and that led to a review by the Crown corporation.

McDonald said Canada Post didn't give the union the results of the assessment, nor did it tell homeowners how their mailboxes could be fixed.

Instead, said McDonald, the corporation reviewed all of the 164 private mailboxes in the town and determined that 76 were not safe and that another 22 were questionable and might have to be relocated.

"If it is a safety issue, yes, we want to fix it right away," he said. "(But) you can't use the safety of one mailbox to go and eliminate 76 throughout the entire community."

McDonald said one of the community mailbox sites some people are now being sent to to get their mail is more dangerous than their private mailboxes were.

"Most of the problem areas that Canada Post is changing these boxes on are rural roads that have very low car volumes," McDonald said.

"At some point, they've got to bring us the information from that assessment so we can have a set of eyes on it as well," McDonald added.

He's concerned Canada Post is trying to scale back the service in the area so a few years down the road it can eliminate one of the three postal routes in the community and make a position redundant.

He's hoping people in the town will rally behind the union to save the delivery service to these mailboxes.

Canada Post denies most of McDonald's claims.

Spokeswoman Lori Lancaster said all three carriers in the town reported safety concerns, and it wasn't just a single mailbox.

"We're obligated to look into these safety concerns," she said. "Under the Canada Labour Code, we're not only morally responsible to look at it, but we're legally responsible to look at potential safety issues, especially when they are brought forward by employees."

Lancaster also said the review is part of a nationwide safety evaluation.

"We are assessing ... every single rural mailbox across the country," she said.

The corporation, said Lancaster, has criteria it uses to evaluate rural mailboxes, including traffic sightlines.

She said every person whose mailbox is a problem will be visited by a Canada Post employee to discuss how their mailboxes can be made more safe before there's any change in service.

"We do our best to see if there is anything we can do with their current mailbox to make it pass (inspection)," said Lancaster.

She said because none of the three carriers requested union representation on the safety issue, the corporation was not required to consult with the union.

She said changing people's service is a last resort, but when there is a safety issue the corporation has to act.

Lancaster said changes to one of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's routes has been in place since the end of February, while changes to the remaining two routes will come into effect Monday.

Organizations: Canada Post, Canadian Union, Postal Workers District Labour Council The Telegram McDonald's

Geographic location: Portugal Cove, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Jodi
    April 15, 2012 - 19:41

    I like to order online !!! so I use CanPost.

  • Mike in Milton
    April 15, 2012 - 09:21

    While I do agree that some of the mailboxes locations are unsafe, they went overboard with the criteria. My elderly parents now have to walk about 1/2km on a steep hill to get their mail. All things considered equal though, I don't think the practice of the rural delivery drivers operating their cars on the wrong side of the road is very safe either. It can get pretty scary when you meet a car driving the wrong way in the fog or a blind curve.

  • Qudos to CPC
    April 14, 2012 - 13:36

    There are dangerous mailboxes in rural raeas along the road. Workers should be able to drive to the box, stick their hand out, put mail in the box and drive off. When the mailbox is on the shoulder of a crumbling bank the carrier driver could potentially role his car into the ditch. When there is a poor sight line getting to and from the box in the the car the driver could easily get into an accident with an unseen civilian car passing by. Likewise, drivers need to get in and out of the car safe just like drivers have ot get to a door safe in urban areas. Oh, and then there are rusty mailboxes that could be a heath hazzard. Perhaps, when the dandergous mailbox was put up it was ok, but it has worn, the ground has crumbled, trees to block vision have grown, and traffic flows have changed and they are no longer safe. I have delivered many flyers in rural areas and see the point the Canada Post Corp is making.

  • Jarrod
    April 14, 2012 - 11:41

    The day has passed for the CUPW. Always using misinformation to try and sway the public. In 5 years CP will look a lot different.

  • Robb
    April 14, 2012 - 10:09

    OH, I thought April fools was last week....what a joke this is.....mailboxes are dangerous....???.....come on people, there has got to be something more newsworthy.

  • Carol Ann Rogers
    April 14, 2012 - 10:01

    Home owners can always look at where their mailbox is located and determine if any hazards exist, and illiminate the hazard. Perhaps moving the mailbox may be necessary if its location poses a problem, or clearing the area of debris. This will force CP to reconsider as the workplace safety issue will have been illiminated. Problem solved and, mail delivery continues. Most workplace safety issues can be resolved with a little thought to the problem.

  • stephen
    April 14, 2012 - 09:38

    if it weren,t for junk mail and flyers,CP would be out of business. Most expensive pizza menu delivery service in the world .lol

  • Mellu
    April 14, 2012 - 09:18

    Are they afraid someone will stuff a rabid, mail man hating dog in one? Ooh, mailbox, you so scaaaary!