THE CANADIAN PRESS -- OTTAWA - Canada Post says it is losing tens of millions of dollars in business because of rotating strikes by its workers, and some of that may never return.
Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton says the Crown corporation has lost $65 million in direct revenue -- including $35 million in cancelled contracts -- since rotating strikes began June 2.
"They are digging to the bone, they are pushing major customers to go to the competition," he said.
"There are spin-off losses, there are customers cancelling contracts, there are customers moving away and there are Canadians not putting mail on the general mail stream."
Hamilton said the strike is merely serving to speed the decline of the business, warning that some of their major customers may never return.
The firm's warning follows a news conference in Ottawa on Monday morning in which union president Denis Lemelin accused Canada Post of trying to provoke a general strike.
Lemelin said Canada Post's decision to only deliver mail three days a week was tantamount to a "partial lockout" designed to provoke a general strike and force Ottawa to order the workers back.
And he disputes Hamilton's contention that the rotating strikes are a major disruption, saying there is still plenty of mail in the system. The work stoppages are only affecting 30 per cent of the country on any given day, he said.
"The government has to send them a clear message to sit and negotiate and maybe it will be a different ball game," he said.
"About a general strike, we will evaluate the situation."
The two sides were scheduled to return to the bargain table again today, but so far the talks have yielded little progress. The company rejected the union's latest offer to operate under the previous contract.
Meanwhile, Canada Post has announced mail delivery in most cities will be limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and a final call will be made today on whether all cities will be affected, based on mail volumes.
Postal workers in Red Deer, Alta., spent the weekend on strike and employees in 10 cities across the country walked off the job next.
Strikes began late Sunday in Corner Brook, N.L.; Fredericton; Breton, N.S.; the Quebec towns of Trois-Rivieres and Sherbrooke; Cornwall, Windsor and Niagara Falls in Ontario; Regina; and Nanaimo, B.C.