Corporate media coverage of the Canadian postal strike has been so biased, they’ve often sounded like a Canada Post media rep. So many people don’t understand issues & events behind the Canadian Postal Strike. I’d like to try to rectify that.
Canada Post is one of the cheapest postal services in the world. It has made a profit for 16 years straight, & made a record $281 million profit in 2009. It’s CEO is the highest paid exec of any crown corporation in Canada.
But that wasn’t enough for Canada POSH – er Post. While claiming it couldn’t afford to give it’s workers decent pensions, Canada Post instituted a $2 billion modernization that put workers’ health in jeopardy by forcing unsafe practices on the workers .
And that wasn’t enough either. Canada PROFITS Post continued hiring more part time & temp workers to cut benefit & wage costs, then when the union contract was up went on the offensive.
CUPW wanted a wage increase that would cover inflation, a stable decent pension, safe working conditions & they wanted (gasp!) ALL posties to be entitled to the same wages & benefits. Oh, and the top wage now? $55,000 a year I think. Greedy sods eh?
But Canada’s highest paid crown corp CEO rejected that & tried to slash new employee wages by 30%, reduce benefits, weaken job security, & provide an inferior pension.
Canada Post also tried to gut postie’s sick-days, forcing them on to long-term disability & “essentially privatizing healthcare benefits for workers and offering less coverage”, according to my brainiack friend, Pam.
The general consensus is that Harper wants to privatize Canada Post & is trying to fatten up the bottom er- LINE to make it appealing to prospective buyers. And what would happen then? Inferior service with a superior price tag. Think Fedex rates with a Canada Post moniker. And what do you think the chances are that a privatized company would keep necessary but not profitable services like rural routes? Not bloody likely.
So anyway on June 3rd, after being stoned walled by Canada Post, CUPW went on strike. They chose a rotating strike so as not to disrupt business, and committed to delivering pension & social assistance cheques.
But this deprived Canada Post of the opportunity to push for back-to-work legislation. So Canada Post locked out posties, the majority of whom were not on rotation strike duty & and had shown up for work.
And the Harper government, seeing a great opportunity to enforce the “austerity measures” they committed to at the G20 last year, tabled repressive “back-to-work” legislation even though the workers had been locked out. The legislation seemed designed to force CUPW to cave to Canada Posts’ demands and repressed the fundamental right to collective bargaining.
This is a crucial struggle. CUPW is the largest union in Canada. If the government breaks them, what decent benefits & wages the rest of us still have will be easy pickings.
And those who are making a good living selling products & services who think this won’t affect them, think again. If clients’ decent wages become a thing of the past, it will only be a matter of time before vendors’ revenue streams dwindle.
The CUPW struggle is our struggle & will affect all of us. Let’s stand for them, and in doing so, stand for decent wages for us and for our children.