Refusing overtime at Canada Post
I am a retired worker from Canada Post and have been active in the CUPW Union most of that career. I think the actions of the Edmonton Local were short sited and a mistake. The problem as cited in the article is that the company was understaffing. That is the truth and it was obvious because the employer was failing to contractually backfill and often had depleted lists of temporary workers to call on. The Union often brought forward the issue of backfill but the employer pointed out that the article in the contract that deals with the back fill was at the choice of the employer. As for the workers on the temporary list, poor wages and hard physical labour often made it difficult to maintain the workers on the list and on the other hand, those that managed to stay would eventually be offered regular positions and need to be replaced. Add to that the overburdening and long hours often faced by the letter carriers, injuries were depleting the regular staff. The contract contains article 15.14, which still remains, and allows for compulsory overtime, however the last contract and the current contract extension has suspended the use of the article by the employer. If we do not examine to deeply, this appears to be a monumental win for the Union and the workers they represent; or is it. Most of us are aware that governments are and have privatized public services and as a result that service has not gone well for the service or the workers employed in providing that service. Britain privatized much of the postal service and the service suffers to put it gently. Our conservative Government has attacked the postal service several times, and in my opinion, it is to reduce labour costs and attract privatization. This is why services have been quietly reduced over the decades. Free address changes now cost, door to door delivery is non existent in new housing developments, overnight in town mail service now is three days and the list goes on. All of these actions reduce labour, because service translates to labour cost, So, how is this related to the elimination of forced overtime? What we are now seeing is routes that at one time had to be delivered five days a week are sitting in the depot waiting for someone to deliver them. In turn this is introducing to the public alternate day delivery. If that is allowed to expand, alternate day delivery will lead to the reduction of jobs in the Post Office. Much of the strength of postal workers at the bargaining table comes from the support we get from the public. If the public becomes use to alternate day delivery, like they have become use to paying for an address change or walking to a community mail box to retrieve their mail, the postal workers will not see the public support to defend five days a week mail service. Is it a wonder why the company agreed to suspending the compulsory overtime article? I think not. I believe the company has seen how it is effective for their agenda. In fact, postal workers are still facing the same staffing issue that gave rise to the protest of forced overtime, That issue has not been fixed and has created another problem where when letter carriers return to work after a contractual absence, they are faced to deliver two days mail with no addition compensation and only paid overtime if they work it. Meanwhile the employer makes out like a bandit because they did not have to pay for the relief to deliver the route on the day of the original carriers absence. I think it is too early to pat ourselves on the back, because this is likely going to turn into a bigger fight to save thousands of jobs across the country. I sincerely hope I am wrong but this is the company that unilaterally without input from the public or anyone else tried to remove to the door delivery in 2013, only to be stopped by the public and a federal election.