Cost-cutting underlies Canada Post strike talks

“Canada post cutting costs but is investing $2 billion dollars to new technology,” CBC quoted Daniel Lemelin of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. “If you are investing $2 billion to new technology, it’s because there’s profit somewhere.”

The CUPW and Canada Post are attempting to strike a deal or 48,000 postal workers will go on strike.

Discussing the impact of a strike, Michael Mulvey, assistant professor of marketing and consumer behaviour at the University of Ottawa, admitted that it would cause disruption for businesses that rely on Canada Post.

“Assuming businesses have a system with Canada Post that is already up and running, this will definitely be disrupting the status quo for them,” he said. “It creates uncertainty and an inability to follow through on some promises that have been made to customers.”

Gerry Deveau, the national director of CUPW’s Ontario region approximated that about 23 cities have already gone on strike including Winnipeg, Hamilton and Kitchener.

Deveau’s main argument came down to the fact that Canada Post workers felt with these new rollbacks and changes in employment, their hard work and contributions were going unrecognised and unrewarded. “From our perspective,” he said, “we are a crown corporation and for 16 consecutive
years we’ve been generating profit. I’d say we’ve given the community about $1.2 billion through taxes and shares, and yes, we’ve kept some for our business but we still generated a profit.”

He continued to say that in an economically unstable time, Canada Post workers have been stimulating the economy and therefore, reductions to the number of their employees or benefits is far from the thank you they believe they deserve.

“Canada Post is proposing implementing rollbacks,” Deveau explained. “They want to establish a two tier employment system where new employees will receive less pay as well as fewer benefits.” They also want to change the sick leave system to what Deveau classified as an inferior one, as well and alter pension entitlements.

“New employees will be standing next to someone who is making more than they are, with better benefits and doing the same job.” Deveau said. “How is that fair? How is that stimulating the economy?”

As well, with the implementation of new work methods, Canada Post will be reducing the workforce by 5-10 thousand employees, or by 10-20 per cent. Deveau said that Canada Post believes this will save millions of dollars but the workers question why that is necessary.

“We do honestly recognise that letter mail has significantly decreased over the last few years,” Deveau admitted. “But with the economy stabilizing, parcel mail has increased significantly and we believe that letter mail will stabilize.”

When Mulvey gave his opinion on the reduction of workers because of implemented technology, he wasn’t overly sympathetic. “No one likes disruption, I can see that — especially when it comes to their own employment.”

“I also empathize for the people who need these jobs and the money because they are providing for their family,” he continued. “The Canadian Post business model has been in transition for a long time. I mean, years ago the mail used to be delivered by men on horseback riding across the country but they were replaced with the train and automobile. But they are still a business.”

He went on to say that many services have had to adapt to technological changes in today’s time and that Canada Post is just another one of these businesses that has to adapt.

To do this, Deveau explained that Canada Post workers had already suggested a plan of action. Rather than diminishing the size and power of the postal system, Deveau suggested there be a focus on offering new services in order to change with the times.

Other service options that could be included with everyday postal service would be banking, government licensing, and passports. “This would be an extreme benefit to small rural communities who have limited links to the federal government,” Deveau said.

When asked what he thought of this idea, Mulvey agreed that under the right circumstances, these new services could be a benefit to the industry. “More services can simplify a customer’s life,” he said. “However, if they’re not good at all of these new services, it can cause confusion and inconsistencies which overall would have negative effects.”

Rotating postal strikes are continuing throughout Canada until agreements can be made between Canada Post and CUPW.


What the Union Wants

  • -new technology assessed for health and safety standards

  • -new methods of mail carrying to be changed (in Winnipeg, injury rates —
    aside from carpal tunnel — have increased 15 per cent)

  • -want Canada Post to consider implementing new services such as banking, passports and government licensing in order to grow with the times

  • -most of all, they want recognition and reward for their consistent and beneficial services rather than

What Canada Post Wants

  • -implement a 2 tier employment system

  • -change employee benefits

  • -reduce starting pay from $25.00 an hour to $17.50

  • -alter pension entitlements

  • -alter sick leave

  • -reduce workforce numbers and implement new technology

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