UPDATE: B.C. postal worker accuses Canada Post of questionable tactics during strike

UPDATE: B.C. postal worker accuses Canada Post of questionable tactics during strike

Vancouver Island carrier says the backlog of mail is 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 Media 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. (Socio-Economic Cheque Program document is published at the end of this article.)

Backlog? What backlog?

According to Chris, the backlog being bandied about in the media is another Crown corporation 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 a report that postal workers have seen one truck in London, six trailers in Hamilton, two in Halifax, 15 in Moncton, and 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 at the Victoria depot.

“We get our mail every day from them. There is zero backlog. I can guarantee that.”

(Canada Post did not respond to a request for comment regarding this assertion.)

Labour issues

Working 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.”

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 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 president, Hassan Yussuff in a statement posted on the CUPW website.

The Harper government’s 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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The current state of the Royal Hotel. (Photo Contributed by Richard Leeks)
‘No one is willing to step up to take any responsibility’: Royal owners plow on with renovictions

Heat, kitchen appliances, doors, running water and WiFi have been allegedly removed

RDEK reminds public to register for their emergency notification system. File photo.
RDEK reminds residents to register for East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System

Provincial Alert system cannot be used for local emergencies

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
City of Fernie: New orders a challenge, but community is supportive

Mayor Qualizza said that the new public health orders were an opportunity to safeguard the winter season

Sparwood mayor David Wilks was in attendance at the street party to discuss potential changes to Centennial Square.
Wilks reflects on new public health orders

Sparwood Mayor Wilks said that it was important to work towards a normal Christmas in 2020

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

2020
Urban wildlife Part VI: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser throughout 2020. Part VI.

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week (Nov. 23) at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Entire gym class at northern B.C. high school isolating after confirmed COVID case

Contact tracing by Interior Health led to the quarantine

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Most Read