On the Picket Line

Canada postal workers strike over pay equality, health care

By Joe Young
November 19, 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Some 50,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers began a series of rotating strikes Oct. 22. One- or two-day walkouts have been organized in Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Halifax. The two-day walkout by almost 9,000 postal workers in Toronto affected two-thirds of all mail delivered in Canada. The explosion of e-commerce has greatly increased the load on postal workers, as the mail is flooded with ever more packages.

“My first winter I was sent out with parcels in the dark. I slipped on ice I didn’t see. It was pitch black,” letter carrier Ryan McDonnell told the Militant on the picket line in front of the Commercial Drive distribution center here. “I shouldn’t have been out there, but I was afraid to bring mail back. Now I’ll have knee problems for life.”

The major issues are “forced overtime, increasing fatigue and injuries,” said local Postal Workers Union President Jennifer Savage, who was on the line.

As he picketed at the St. Laurent, Montreal, sorting center Oct. 30, Robert Mont Louis said, “The post office is making a lot of profits, but they don’t want to share any with us. With enough pressure from us, they’ll have to back down.”

The union is demanding Canada Post bosses create more full-time jobs. Currently there are many temporary workers who are paid less; aren’t covered by health, dental or disability insurance plans; and have no guaranteed hours.

Another major issue is pay equality for some 8,000 rural and suburban postal workers, 70 percent of whom are women. Earlier this year an arbitrator ruled that rural postal workers should receive pay of equal value to urban counterparts, but Canada Post so far has refused to comply.