Despite a chilly and frosty morning, the postal workers of the Canada Post in Williams Lake were out in force for the second time as part of their rotating strike Thursday.
For well over a year now the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has been in a deadlock over contract renegotiations with Canada Post. These talks came to a head earlier in October CUPW members began a series of rotating strikes nationwide.
These actions have not gone unnoticed by Ottawa however. On Wednesday they re-appointed a special mediator to help broker an agreement between Canada Post and CUPW while on Thursday morning the Federal Liberals introduced legislation that would bring an end to the rotating strikes.
This move was met with disappointment by lakecity postal workers clustered around space heaters and fires Thursday morning.
“It’s a shame we don’t get to bargain,” postal worker Carolyn Davidson said outside the doors of the main office downtown.
Her co-worker Lisa Martin was sceptical of many of the claims the government and large media organizations are making about the purported postage backup that some sources say could last well into 2019.
“Don’t believe what you’re hearing, there aren’t 700 trucks just sitting around,” Martin said. “Things are still moving.”
Out behind the building by their trucks, Pierre Mayett said that despite being on strike they still had postal members out delivering cheques for welfare, pension and child support and that the Williams Lake Branch would be back to work Friday morning.
The president of the local CUPW, Jozie Maas echoed the sentiments expressed by her colleagues. According to her, they’re fighting for their rights to health and safety, no forced overtime and the creation of full-time jobs.
“We don’t want to hurt the public, we’re as frustrated as they are,” Maas said.
According to her, there are some Canada Post employees that are paid to work five hours but end up having to work 10 to 12 hours, with no additional pay. In addition to precarious working conditions, Maas feels Canada Post does not do enough to support its employees.
According to the Canada Post website, “the postal service remains operational, but Canada Post has advised commercial customers that it is not able to honour its delivery standards for any product because of prolonged and ongoing rotating strikes.”
“The strikes have created massive backlogs of mail and parcels already in our network, just days before we expect millions of more parcels from Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales,” the website noted.
As to the reported backlog, Maas said that Canada Post is inflating these numbers and promoting a false narrative. While there is a backup, Maas said colleagues at other offices have confirmed it won’t “wreck Christmas” and that everyone’s desire is to reach an agreement so the Christmas season can go on.
“I believe our members need pension raise increases to meet the cost of living,” Maas said. “Instead of legislating us back, they should give the corporation a call. We’re willing to negotiate, they’re just waiting for the legislation.”