UPDATED: Vancouver Island postal worker accuses Canada Post of questionable tactics during strike

UPDATED: Vancouver Island postal worker accuses Canada Post of questionable tactics during strike

Backlog of mail a ‘fabricated crisis’

“Chris” has been a Canada Post employee and an active member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for more than two decades, in centres across Canada. She agreed to an interview with Black Press under the condition of anonymity, to discuss some of what the union considers questionable tactics used by Canada Post in an effort to gain support from Canadians.

***

Cheque’s in the mail?

Have you received your old age security cheques in the mail yet?

Likely not… but Chris says not to blame the strikers.

“We have had them since the 13th, and they have held them in the supervisor’s office and essentially delayed the mail, to make this crisis and blame it on us. Now they can say, ‘Our carriers are on strike, and that’s why you’re not getting your mail on time.’ That is not the case at all. The [cheques] are sitting in Canada Post management offices, and they have been there for… a long time.”

The cheques were held until Nov. 22, at which time they were processed.

Canada Post officials have confirmed the isolation and specific delivery instructions with the cheques, saying they had to be isolated to ensure they were not lost or misplaced due to the work stoppages.

“We have an agreement with CUPW to deliver the cheques where strike activity is occurring and that’s what we are doing,” said an email reply from Canada Post media relations. “The cheques have to be isolated because if the location is on strike, they can’t be mixed up in the mail stream and end up trapped. Distribution dates are determined by the agencies that prepare the cheques and we fully respect that.”

Canada Post is following guidelines set in the Socio-Economic Cheque Program, a collaborative agreement laid out by both sides to ensure proper distribution of government cheques in the event of a work stoppage. (See bottom of page for Socio-Economic Cheque Program)

Backlog? What backlog?

According to Chris, the backlog being bandied about in the media is another Crown Corp fabrication. Some reports suggest upwards of 600 tractor-trailers sit unloaded.

“Where?” she said. “It’s just not true. Canada Post claimed they had hundreds of trailers backlogged in Toronto and throughout the country. But when [media] arrived to take pictures, Canada Post wouldn’t let them in [the compound]. There are maybe 50 trailers across Canada that haven’t been unloaded yet. Canada Post is saying there are hundreds and hundreds, which isn’t the case at all. This is all fabricated by them to create this crisis.”

RELATED: Canada Post says hundreds of trucks are waiting to be unloaded

Wednesday, on its website, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers also refuted the report:

Postal workers have seen one truck in London, six trailers in Hamilton, two in Halifax, 15 in Moncton, zero in Saint John and St. John’s.

“So where did all that mail go overnight?” asks Mike Palecek, CUPW national president. “We’re convinced that Canada Post manufactured a crisis just to get the government to intervene. If so, that’s a huge concern, and it will further poison our work environment and labour relations for years and years to come.”

Chris said she has personally felt the consequences of this tactic. A package she ordered from China was recently ‘returned to sender.’

“I contacted them, and they said because of the Canada Post strike they are not allowed to send stuff to Canada. They have been notified by the corporation, which is totally ridiculous. We unload stuff every day.”

She said there has been no backlog whatsoever at the Victoria depot.

“We get our mail every day from them. There is zero backlog. I can guarantee that.”

(Canada Post has yet to respond to Black Press for comments regarding these assertions.)

Labour issues

Work conditions for letter carriers is the biggest issue of this strike, according to Chris.

“The biggest issue is the over-burdening of our letter carriers now,” she said. “They are forced to carry more mail, and their routes are longer. Some of the routes are now over 30 kilometres long, and they are carrying 50 pounds on their back. Our injury rate is five times any other federal employee, because of the over-burdening of our letter carriers.”

Routes have been restructured according to a letter carrier route measurement system created by Canada Post.

“When they do restructures, they eliminate routes and make other ones longer. Even though our letter mail has eroded a percentage in the last number of years, we make up for that tenfold in the ad mail they deliver. So it’s a heavier load now, the routes are longer, and of course, it’s an aging population.”

Another issue is the “force back overtime.”

Chris said letter carriers have refused this forced overtime during the strike, and that’s the only thing creating any backlog.

“What we have done now is we have curtailed the overtime. We work our eight hours and we go home,” she said. “That’s where the backlog is forming, because they don’t have enough staff. Whatever backlog there is has very little to do with the strike, because the strike is rotating. So we are out for a day, or a couple of days, here or there. We are slowing down mail to make the public aware of what is going on, but if there is any backlog of mail, it’s essentially because the letter carriers aren’t working any more than eight hours.”

Another big issue is pay equity for the rural carriers. If that sounds familiar, there’s a reason.

It was one of the major issues in the 2016 strike as well.

“We won that in court – they are supposed to get that – but we are still striking for it, because apparently, the corporation doesn’t want to pay it,” said Chris. “This has been ongoing since 2005, when we brought them into our union.”

Chris appreciates not everyone is in support of the mail carriers, but she said the frustration should be directed towards Canada Post, and not the workers. The rotating strikes are the union’s way of bringing attention to the situation with as little disruption as possible.

RELATED: Canada Post union announces rotating strikes

“We don’t want to affect the public at all,” she said. “We are the good guys. We are the guys who want to help you. We are the people who show up to your door when someone has fallen and can’t get up, and call the ambulance.

“We love our jobs. We love helping people and we love delivering the mail. We just want to work and have a fair contract.”

Chris also claimed when it comes to Canada Post profits, there is a misappropriation of funds.

“All the money that Canada Post makes in profit is supposed to go into better postal service. That was the mandate when we became a Crown corporation. As soon as we turned a profit, the government took that into personal revenue and they have done it ever since. The last time we actually lost money was 1986. We have profited every year since then.”

According to the Canada Post 2017 Annual Report, the Canada Post Group of Companies (Canada Post, Purolator and SCI Group) reported a profit of $144 million in 2017. Canada Post alone earned $74 million.

Legislation tabled

Back-to-work legislation to force the end of the strike was tabled Thursday in Ottawa, with Labour Minister Patty Hajdu saying people and businesses are relying on Canada Post to deliver the mail as the holidays approach.

Chris said defiant postal workers could now face up to $1,000 a day in fines.

“If you’re a young person with a family, you could never afford to pay $1,000 a day, especially if you are already losing a couple of hundred dollars a day in wages. It’s a threat to the person that can’t afford it.”

The back-to-work legislation tabled by the Trudeau government has been condemned by the Canadian Labour Congress.

“The right to strike is an integral part of collective bargaining. Without it, an employer has no incentive to bargain in good faith, and workers have no recourse to demand a fair process,” said CLC president, Hassan Yussuff, in a statement posted on the CUPW website. “We are calling on the federal government to allow for a fair process by encouraging workers and the employer to come to an agreement that works for everyone. This back-to-work legislation is a clear violation of workers’ Charter rights. CUPW successfully fought to have this right explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court.”

The Harper government’s back-to-work legislation to end the 2011 postal strike was later deemed to be unconstitutional.

Socio-Economic Cheque Program by CVRecord on Scribd

Just Posted

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

A conceptual rendering of the commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)
Rocky Creek commercial plaza passes public hearing

The proposed plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road would bring commercial activity to Ladysmith’s north end

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read