Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) set up a picket line today outside the main post office in Sackville.
The postal workers are members of the CUPW Moncton local which began a rotating strike at 6 p.m. yesterday, one of several across the country.
The rotating strikes are happening as Canada Post and CUPW try to negotiate new contracts for the union’s two bargaining groups with the help of a special mediator appointed by the federal government.
The Urban Postal Operations and Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) bargaining units have been without a contract for almost a year.
Linda Campbell, president of CUPW’s Moncton local, says excessive overtime and health and safety are two of the main issues.
“Health and safety is a big thing,” she adds. “We don’t want to be overburdened and we want a better quality balance with our work life and our own family life.”
Campbell explains that postal workers are routinely expected to work overtime.
“Canada Post is not hiring enough people for the workload that we have now due to the increase in parcels,” she says. “We have more and more parcels coming all the time and they don’t have enough workers to get everything processed and people end up working much longer days.”
CUPW accuses Canada Post management of refusing to deal with safety issues that arise from excessive workloads and overtime.
“People are working faster, working longer hours and the possibility of injuries due to that gets very high,” Campbell says. (CUPW’s National President Mike Palecek says that postal workers are experiencing a higher rate of injuries than other federal workers.)
Campbell adds that a third main issue involves pay disparities between different groups of workers.
“They’ve gone with a two-tier system for new hirees, temporary workers, so they’re paying them much less than their co-workers, but they’re doing the exact same job and all of our people who do the rural mail service, they do the exact same job as a letter carrier, but make less money,” she says.
“We’re looking for equality. We’re all the same and we all need to be treated the same.”
In a statement e-mailed to The New Wark Times, Canada Post says it’s working to address the union’s concerns.
“The Corporation has made significant offers to CUPW that include increased wages, job security, and improved benefits, and it has not asked for any concessions in return,” the statement says.
“We have also committed to work together to address employees’ workload concerns caused by parcel growth,” it says, suggesting that Canada Post is also open to improving rates of pay for rural and suburban workers while “moving to one uniform for all delivery employees.”
Canada Post profits
Meantime, CUPW Moncton’s local president Linda Campbell says most people don’t realize Canada Post is a profitable Crown Corporation that does not depend on tax subsidies.
The Corporation’s latest annual report shows that in the last five years, the Canada Post Group of Companies has made a net profit every year except 2013.
“They’re making money because of the increase in parcels,” Campbell says, “so when a company increases its productivity…don’t you think they would hire more people to be able to get that work done?”