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NEWS: Canada Post locks out workers across the country

CBC reports this morning that, “Mail delivery across the country has halted after Canada Post locked out its workers and suspended operations late Tuesday night, following 12 days of rotating strikes. …Canada Post’s decision to lock out workers followed 24-hour strikes in Toronto and Montreal, which handle 60 per cent of the country’s mail, a disruption that was expected to carry over for another day.”

But, “Canadian Union of Postal Workers national president Denis Lemelin insisted the rolling strikes had affected only about 30 per cent of the Canadian population so far, while plenty of mail in the system awaits delivery. The union chief displayed photographs to reporters of full mail rooms that he said raised questions about Canada Post’s claims that mail volume had dropped drastically. CUPW had offered to suspend its targeted walkouts if Canada Post reinstates the workers’ collective agreement, which lapsed in January, but the Crown corporation declined to do so.”

“The two sides are still at odds on a host of issues, including new mail-processing technology the company wants to implement and wages for new hires. On salaries, the union has said the parties are ‘fairly close’ on wages for regular employees, but Canada Post is pushing for a significant cut in the hourly rate for new hires, to as low as $18 from about $23. The union said Canada Post has been profitable for the last 16 years and is misrepresenting its financial position. …CUPW also denounced the withdrawal of employee medical benefits, saying some of its members are facing huge bills for medications that would have been covered by their drug plan. Canada Post suspended its workers’ health and dental coverage when the union issued its strike notice in May.”

“On Tuesday, federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt suggested that back-to-work legislation was not yet an option, unlike for the Air Canada strike, because the postal strike was not national in scale. The lockout now raises the possibility.”

In a recent statement of solidarity with Canada Post workers, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow wrote, “I am writing on behalf of the tens of thousands of members of the Council of Canadians from coast to coast to express our solidarity with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. …The concessions that Canada Post is refusing to back down on would be a worrying step toward privatization, and we commend your efforts to defend and expand mail delivery in Canada as a crucial public service.” To read Maude’s letter in full, please go to http://www.cupw.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/12989/la_id/1.htm.

Please note, as a membership-based organization, the Council of Canadians relies almost exclusively on the generous support of our members and donors, particularly through our mail-based fundraising campaigns. Given the lock-out, please consider these alternate ways of supporting of our ongoing work: Making a secure on-line donation at www.canadians.org; Calling us toll free at 1-800-387-7177 and donating by telephone; E-mailing us at inquiries@canadians.org.

For ‘five ways to support CUPW members on strike’, go to the CUPW website at http://www.cupw.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/13016/la_id/1.htm. Further updates from CUPW can be found at http://www.cupw.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/1165/la_id/1.htm.