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Rotating Post Office strike hits Essex before Back-to-Work legislation issued


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by Sylene Argent

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey said Liberals betrayed Canada’s Postal Workers when the party tabled back-to-work legislation for Canada’s Postal Workers last week.

  “Reliable postal services are important to Canadians and Canadian businesses. Our postal workers work hard to provide quality service, but it is unacceptable to expect them to work constant and mandated unpaid overtime that is hurting their family life and has produced an injury rate that is five times higher than the average federally regulated workplace,” Ramsey said, who is also the NDP’s Deputy Labour Critic.

  “The majority of the workers in Essex are women who are fighting for the same pay as their urban colleagues and they are fighting for a safer workplace. The government is not allowing them to negotiate equal pay for equal work – that’s appalling and New Democrats simply won’t stand for it,” Ramsey added

  Jennifer Grant, Vice President of CUPW Local 500, said Canada Post has two bargaining groups, urban carriers and rural carriers. Both have been without a contract for around a year, which put the Union in legal strike position. On October 22, the Union began the nation-wide rotating strike.

  “The Corporation had not been bargaining in good faith,” Grant said, so a rotating strike began. Workers picketed in Essex Centre on Thursday, November 15.

  “We didn’t want to hurt the public. Our battle is with the corporation,” Grant said of why the rotating strike was chosen to travel through the nation ahead of the holiday season, a busy time for the industry.

  Grant said the Corporation did make an offer to the Union, but she said the Union would have had to put it to a Canada-wide membership vote and there simply was not enough time to do so.

  The Union then put forward a counter-offer. The Corporation then suggested a “cooling off period” that would last until the end of January, Grant said.

  A “cooling off” period, Grant commented, would not have address the issues causing the strike, which includes health and safety concerns as Canada Post workers have the highest injury rate in the federal sector with a 5.4 higher rate of injury, she said, wage discrepancies, and forced overtime.

  The demographic for postal workers has changed, Grant said, noting in the past, a worker would have 1.5hours to sort their route’s mail, then deliver the mail for 6 hours. A Postal Transformation System at some branches is changing that to having the letter carriers deliver the entire shift.

  On Saturday, a back-to-work legislation in the House of Commons was passed, with a majority vote. The back-to-work legislation was discussed at the senate level and passed on Monday evening. 

  Grant was hopeful the legislation did not pass. Before the passing of the legislation, he said she believed if the Union had to work under previous collective agreement, it could mean between Monday and end of holiday season, there would be around 315 disabling injuries to postal workers. In the same time frame, she added, rural carriers could commit 250,000 hours without pay. Urban Postal workers could be forced to work thousands of hours of forced overtime.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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