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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use bean bag round in arrest

Man arrested for assault with weapon, uttering threats

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

A member of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Clean Team works along Fort Street. The team will be working weekends from May through September, providing seven day a week coverage. (Photo courtesy DVBA)
Downtown Victoria cleanup service expanded for spring, summer

Clean Team members to patrol sidewalks seven days a week through September

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

Robyn Sealy of Parks Canada and carver Charles Elliot look at the new interpretive display unveiled May 4 at SMONECTEN, the new name of the former McDonald Campground in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve just north of Sidney. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Campground near Sidney renamed to recognize First Nations

SMONECTEN is new name of former McDonald Campground in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward comes away with the puck after a battle along the boards with Grizzlies defenceman Jake Veilleux. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions

Grizzlies edged Alberni Valley Bulldogs in back-to-back matches to claim title

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Most Read