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Postal workers grudgingly leave picket lines
The federal government has ordered Canadian Post employees back to work after a rotating strike and lockout disrupted mail service across the country.
“Everyone is glad to be back to work, it’s what we’ve always wanted to do,” said Janet Barney, Canadian Union of Postal Workers local 850 president.
Canadian Post employees who work in depots reported back to work on June 27 for the evening 3 p.m. shift. Letter carriers are scheduled to resume work Tuesday morning.
The federal government legislating a contract between CUPW and Canada Post has dangerous ramifications for workers across Canada, Barney said.
“With Stephen Harper stepping in, it’s unjust, it’s not fair,” she said. “This sends a sad message to all workers in Canada. The Harper government is very anti-worker.”
Many workers at the Canada Post depot on Station Avenue in Langford said they appreciate NDP MPs staging a 58-hour filibuster in Ottawa to stall back to work legislation.
“Even though it was a lost cause, it was nice of them,” said Kim Hughes, a letter carrier from Langford.
Employees have returned to work under their old contract for the next 90 days. During that time Canada Post and CUPW will submit potential contracts to an arbitrator. One contact will be chosen. “This is winner take all,” Barney said.
“This is binding arbitration with nothing in the middle,” remarked letter carrier Effy Korkoras.
Postal workers say they are frustrated that outtstanding problem remain in their workplace, issues that prompted the rotating strikes in the first place. Letter carriers talked about constant forced overtime, understaffing and lack of breaks.
Prior to returning to work, employees heard rumours they would not be approved to work any overtime during the 90-day period.
With the backlog of mail, letter carriers say it’s going to take a long time for people to get their letters. People will be receiving items such as expired flyers and three week-old TV guides.
“There is a lot of mail in the system. We don’t know how to get all the stuff out,” Barney said.
“They’ve been holding back mail, there is no overtime, there is no extended hours and we are understaffed,” Pearce added.
As horns honk from passing vehicles, the postal workers on the picket line on Monday morning said they felt the support of the public.
One vehicle pulled over and gave the workers a bag of doughnuts and several coffees.
“This is the public that supports us,” Hughes said. “We are not federal employees, we are a (Crown) corporation. Our wages don’t come from taxes. This is like any other business, the wages come from revenue.”