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Posties protest retail downsizing in Chilliwack

A small protest was held outside the post office in downtown Chilliwack Monday morning to warn the public about potential downsizing impacts. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
A small protest was held outside the post office in downtown Chilliwack Monday morning to warn the public about potential downsizing impacts.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Canada Post is calling its new downsizing effort a "Postal Service Centre" model.

The changes in retail configurations are set to hit post offices across the country in the coming weeks.

Posties are calling it a "hole-in-the-wall" approach to describe what the new cutout service windows will actually look like.

"You used to be able to walk in to the Post Office in Chilliwack and see nice displays," said Peter Butcher, president of the Upper Valley local of Canadian Union of Postal Workers. "That will all be gone by the end of the month, if plans are executed they way they have been announced."

Some CUPW members met with management, while others held a small protest outside the post office in downtown Chilliwack Monday morning to warn the public about potential downsizing impacts.

The goal was to emphasize the concerns they have about the reconfiguration plans, and the possible effects on customer service and local post office jobs.

"Everything will be done online and they won't have products displayed any more," Butcher said. "I think people will only be more frustrated by this."

Staffing at the downtown Chilliwack retail post office is set to be reduced from the current two employees to one, but no one will lose their job over this, and collective agreements will be respected, underlined the Crown corporation in an emailed response.

There will only be one retail point of sale system, or one cash register in Chilliwack, rather than two, according to Canada Post.

But Butcher said there was always three staff positions at the Chilliwack Post Office in the past, that will now be cut to just one.

The downsizing announced in January, including the end of home delivery, will affect service quality, local economic activity and wait times at the retail level, he said.

But Canada Post officials say despite the concerns, the Chilliwack post office will remain open and its "most popular" retail services maintained.

"We do plan to introduce our new Postal Service Centre model at the Chilliwack Post Office," confirmed Canada Post spokesman John Caines this week.

"While the exact date is still to be determined, we expect to be operational within the next couple of months."

The reason is rapidly declining letter mail volumes. They're down in volume by 20% over the last five years, which has hit the Crown corporation's bottom line, and necessitated the changes.

The new configuration is expected to "maintain service to customers" while offering more efficiency, said Caines.

"Postal Service Centres make good business sense — customers continue to be well served as Canada Post adjusts its retail business model to reflect business realities," the Canada Post rep wrote in an emailed message.

Butcher hopes citizens will join the Posties in taking a stand against downsizing, by writing MP and Canada Post critic Robert Aubin, in the House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0A6.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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