Posties locked out in between contract talks

Credit: Kristi Dobson
Connie Faust, Eric Foster, Mieka Guerin and Diana Kumagai are delivering mail today, but wonder what the future holds for union employees.
Kristi Dobson

Employees at Canada Post are at work this week, but at this point, they do not know for how long. With the latest round of negotiations underway, local posties are wondering, just as much as homeowners are, about the future of the service they provide each day. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers was issued a 72-hour notice by Canada Post yesterday and work is expected to stop as of Friday.

“We don’t know what will happen,” said letter carrier Eric Foster Wednesday morning. “They could either lock us out or change the rules completely. That’s what the 72-hour notice was all about.”

If a complete work stoppage takes place, mail and parcels will not be delivered and new mail will not be processed.

The last time negotiations took place was in 2011 when workers signed a four-year contract. When it expired in January, employees attempted to negotiate benefits but have encountered road blocks.

“It went to arbitration with no negotiations (four years ago) and the arbitrators had to choose one offer or the other,” said Mieka Guerin, letter carrier in Port Alberni. "So they chose Canada Post's offer."

The two said they are concerned about several major issues.

“An important one is the difference in pensions from new employees and older ones,” Eric said.

“They are going after our sick days and offered only a modest wage increase of three per cent over four years,” Mieka said.

Four years ago was the last time employees saw an increase in wages.

“They are also going after our comp time,” Mieka said. “If we work overtime, we can bank it but they are trying to eliminate that. The CUPW put a counter offer in but CP said no to everything. They said the first offer is the final offer.”

Eric said politics have played a major role.

“It is important to point out that the CEO of Canada Post was appointed by the Harper government and makes $500,000 plus bonuses per year,” he said. “He had his contract renewed before Harper left. Trudeau asked him and others on the board to step down. Deepak Chopra (president of Canada Post) said ‘no’. He is the same person who was in charge of negotiations last time.”

“Deepak keeps saying CP is loosing money but in the last twenty years they have made a profit,” Mieka said. “This quarter alone they made $44 million.”

Diversification within the company is being reviewed, including online banking and looking into other venues, as Canada Post already owns 95 per cent of Purolator.

“We are just doing our jobs everyday and waiting while negotiations go back and forth and now we are being locked out,” Mieka said. “We don’t even know what to expect. But we have had a lot of support from the community with 1,600 (Save Door to Door) signs up and I hear from homeowners everyday.”

Canada Post is advising businesses and residents to hold off putting mail through the system.