The rotating strikes began on Oct. 22 after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers demands were not met.
Parcel deliveries are increasing each year. Letter carriers for Canada Post say they’re constantly being overworked. Photo illustration by Tyler Dunne/Kicker
Canada Post employees are refusing to end the rotating strikes amidst their busiest time of the year until their concerns are addressed.
Craig Dyer is a local president for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and has worked for Canada Post for 30 years. He says the Crown corporation needs to recognize the difficulties workers face on a regular basis. The three main concerns, Dyer says, are in regards to health and safety, the need for more full-time employees and equal pay for rural route carriers.
“The parcel market has exploded,” Dyer said. “My route is structured for 37 parcel deliveries a day. I’m averaging 100 plus.
“So when you walk into your office in the morning you’re looking at an eight hour day, now you’re looking at 10 hour day, now you’re looking at a 12 hour day.”
Dyer says in 2011, Canada Post delivered one million parcels in a single day for the first time in its history. In 2016, the company delivered one million parcels in a single day 41 times throughout the year. Last year, the Crown corporation succeeded in delivering one million parcels in a single day 67 times.
“If you don’t like it then go on EI for a couple of months and see how that feels.” – Chris Moss
This major increase in parcel delivery, due to the demand of online shopping, has forced letter carriers into long working hours. Dyer says on average letter carriers make around $53,000 a year, but some St. John’s employees are making $100,000 per year with overtime.
The federal government wants the Crown corporation and the workers to reach a settlement, but it’s prepared to legislate the union members back to work.
But Dyer says he would rather see his family and be involved with his community than receive a larger cheque. In 30 years of employment, 28 were free of reprimands or suspensions. But in the past two years, Dyer says he has faced five reprimands with one suspension for his unwillingness to work overtime. He says he’d rather be an active member of his community.
“I’m a 41-year member of the Church Lads Brigade,” Dyer said. “I had to stop CLB last year, which breaks my heart. I really like working with children. It’s been my life.”
Aside from what Dyer says is excessive overtime for letter carriers, another aspect to the negotiations involves the internal processing of mail. He says a large portion of those employees are temporary or part-time with no benefits. The postal union in St. John’s says that equates to 13 full-time jobs.
“So why wouldn’t you make them full-time and give them those benefits?” Dyer said.
The last component of the union’s request concerns the rural and suburban mail carriers. This employees are responsible for deliveries outside urban areas – in St. John’s there are 13. Dyers says they do the exact same job as him but make about half the income.
“And the kicker is,” Dyer said, “it’s about 60-66 per cent women.”
Chris Moss is a music student at College of the North Atlantic. He says if the postal service doesn’t settle the rotating strikes, he worries about his daughter getting her Christmas presents. He has to send her presents through the mail to Bonavista.
“That’s their time where everyone is desperate,” Moss said. “Everyone needs them so they can get what they want.”
Moss, who is as an electrician by trade, says finding work in this economy can be difficult and being paid to work overtime is an opportunity others would gladly take on.
“If some of these people who are working for the post office went into this cut-throat economy unemployed, they would be wishing they had their jobs back immediately because being paid top dollar to work extra,” Moss said. “If you don’t like it then go on EI for a couple of months and see how that feels.”
On the other side of the coin, Moss says being constantly overworked can lead to depression. He also says with that much overtime there could be more opportunity for full-time employment.
“With all this overtime, you’ve got people working an extra 20 hours a week, well that’s even part time for someone else which would help another family.
“If they start hiring I’d apply and take all the overtime they want to give me.”
Canada Post did not respond to interview requests as of deadline.