Postal Work­ers’ Strike Isn’t an “In­con­ve­nience”

The McGill Daily - - Contents -

On Oc­to­ber 29, at 10:30 p.m., 6,000 Canada Post em­ploy­ees in Mon­treal walked out from their jobs as part of the ro­tat­ing postal worker strike across Canada. Over the past two weeks, the Cana­dian Union of Postal Work­ers (CUPW) has or­ga­nized walk­outs in many prov­inces, in­clud­ing Saskatchewan, Nova Sco­tia, Al­berta, and Que­bec. The CUPW has also is­sued an “over­time ban,” call­ing on work­ers to refuse to work longer than their man­dated eight hours per day. The ban and na­tion­wide strikes are a re­sult of Canada Post’s fail­ure to reach a labour agree­ment with CUPW on Oc­to­ber 28, fol­low­ing 10 months of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The CUPW out­lined ma­jor is­sues af­fect­ing their work­ers, in­clud­ing forced over­time, lack of job se­cu­rity, wage in­equal­ity, and cru­cial health and safety mea­sures that need to be taken. CUPW na­tional pres­i­dent Mike Pale­cek said that work­place in­jury rates have “sky­rock­eted” re­cently. More­over, 50,000 CUPW mem­bers have been work­ing over­time with­out a con­tract since their over­time agree­ment ex­pired. Canada Post has pro­posed wage in­creases to the CUPW, but they were not nearly enough to ac­count for the in­creased cost of liv­ing for work­ers. Canada Post’s pro­pos­als have not ad­dressed the work­ing con­di­tions that led to these in­juries. “We out­lined our ma­jor is­sues to Canada Post at the very be­gin­ning of the ne­go­ti­a­tion process […] and clearly stated that we would not sign any agree­ments that don’t ad­dress over­work and over­bur­den­ing, equal­ity and full­time jobs,” stated Pale­cek.

Af­ter the strike ac­tion be­gan, Canada Post an­nounced its de­ci­sion to cut dis­abil­ity and sick-leave ben­e­fits. The cuts have forced some work­ers with phys­i­cal or men­tal ill­nesses to im­me­di­ately re­turn to work, and will also have an ef­fect on work­ers with short-term dis­abil­ity claims filed be­fore the strikes be­gan.

Al­though the strike in Mon­treal ended on Oc­to­ber 30, it is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that other prov­inces are still on strike, as Canada Post has yet to make a fi­nal ne­go­ti­a­tion with CUPW. Canada Post has put out a state­ment re­lat­ing to how they are go­ing to make up for de­layed de­liv­er­ies, which shifts the at­ten­tion from the strik­ers’ re­quests to the con­sumers’ needs. “[Canada Post’s pro­pos­als] don’t ad­dress a sin­gle one of our ma­jor is­sues,” Pale­cek said on Wed­nes­day in a state­ment on CUPW’S web­site.

Car­ing for con­sumers’ needs should not serve as a way to de­flect from a con­ver­sa­tion on work­ers’ rights. As stu­dents, lim­it­ing our dis­cus­sion of the Canada Post strikes to the in­con­ve­nience of de­layed mail strength­ens Canada Post’s dis­re­gard for its work­ers’ de­mands. It is vi­tal that we push Canada Post to com­pen­sate for their lack of care for their em­ploy­ees’ health, safety, and liveli­hoods, and that we sup­port CUPW in their fight for fair treat­ment in the work­place. While we can­not di­rectly in­flu­ence the out­come of the ne­go­ti­a­tions, you can fol­low the union’s up­dates on the strike at face­book.com/ cup­w­sttp or cupw.ca. You can also send this ed­i­to­rial to Canada Post’s Face­book Mes­sen­ger @canada­post or call them at +1 (866) 607-6301.

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