Fredericton – Fredericton postal workers and members of the Fredericton District Labour Council (FDLC) delivered a message against cuts to the postal service to Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield at his Christmas meet and greet on Dec. 14th in Fredericton.
“We are here today to oppose Canada Post’s cuts to the postal service of this country. Cutting door to door delivery will make life more difficult for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Donald Miller, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Fredericton local.
Earlier that week, on Dec. 11th, Canada Post announced a five point plan, which includes the elimination of door-to-door delivery of urban residential mail and a substantive increase in postage rates from 63 cents to one dollar.
“The service cut will see the elimination of over 8,000 jobs at a time the federal government is priding itself on every new job created through its much touted Economic Action Plan,” said Alex Bailey, President of the FDLC.
Postal workers delivered letters to Ashfield sharing their views on the Canada Post Service cuts. The peaceful assembly finished with postal workers and their allies caroling through the event, “We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas with no service cuts!”
“This is the first of what is sure to be many events bringing postal workers, the labour movement and members of the Canadian public an opportunity to put an end to the proposed plan put forward by Canada Post,” said Bailey.
Deepak Chopra, the CEO Canada Post, a Crown corporation that locked out its workers almost three years ago, is coming under fire for a possible conflict of interest.
Chopra sits on the board of the Conference Board of Canada, a think-tank that has advocated the cuts while suggesting the executive of Canada Post remain in tact. Canada Post had commissioned the Conference Board report and is using it as rationale for the proposed cuts.
Denis Lemelin, national CUPW President, noted the factual errors of the Conference Board report earlier this year: “The Conference Board’s projection of a $1 billion loss for 2020 is based on the inaccurate assumption that there would be a $250 million loss in 2012. But Canada Post actually turned a profit in 2012. Canada Post has stated that there would have been a $54 million loss in 2012 – not $250 million – if it weren’t for one-time savings from CUPW’s collective agreement. If the Board cannot predict the financial results of 2012, can anyone have any confidence in their predictions for 2020? The Conference Board predicted that letter volumes for the fourth quarter of 2012 would be 9.5% less than the same quarter of 2011. As it turns out, they greatly exaggerated the decline in 2012 fourth quarter volumes. The Conference Board’s report also greatly underestimated the potential for growth of parcel delivery. It estimated a 3% growth rate when Canada Post actually saw a 6% increase in parcel volumes in 2012”.
CUPW denounces the Canada Post’s financing what they call self-serving studies to justify cutbacks. They want innovative measures that are being undertaken by other postal administrations in countries like Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand, France and Germany that have expanded their revenue-generating financial and banking services.
“Postal workers recognize the nature of this public service is changing. We are at a crossroads where Canada Post and the Canadian government could take advantage of infrastructure and people in place to strengthen Canadian communities while continuing to maintain a beloved public service. This is not the choice Canada Post is taking; they see cuts instead of potential business growth,” said Miller.
CUPW has a long history of struggle to maintain a quality public post office for all Canadians.
“It is the hope of the Conservative government and Canada Post management that by cutting services and eliminating 6,000–8,000 jobs, Canada Post will once again generate hundreds of millions in profits, which can then be distributed in the form of dividends to the government and bonuses for its managers. This is not our vision of the future. The post office belongs to the public and should have public service as its priority,” said Lemelin.
Summary of Canada Post’s plan for postal service cuts
Door-to-door mail delivery to millions of Canadian households will be converted to community mailbox delivery over the next five years. This would end a long tradition still maintained by every post office in the G20. Letter carriers are often the only daily connection for seniors and Canadians with disabilities. With every eliminated job comes reduced economic spending power and contribution to the community tax base.
A new approach to pricing:
The cost of a stamp will increase by almost 50%, from 63 cents to one dollar, unless purchased in bulk, which will cost 85 cents. Large businesses will have a smaller rate increase, 75 cents.
Expanding postal franchises:
Canada Post will be contracting out more franchise postal outlets in stores across Canada. Jobs at these outlets will not be unionized career based jobs but rather low paying service industry jobs, which do not promote long term staff retention for consistent and professional secure service.
Canada Post will invest millions in automation for letter mail sortation while they maintain this is part of the reason why their business is in decline. Also, at a time when most environmentally conscious companies are attempting to reduce their carbon footprint, Canada Post will put thousands of new vehicles on the road to replace letter carriers on foot walks.
Addressing the cost of labour:
Canada Post will take every opportunity to remove good unionized jobs from our communities. Alternatively, they could address the very high top management labour costs. When CEO Deepak Chopra was named to the list of top jobs in 2011, the order-in-council appointment stipulated a five-year term and fixed his annual salary within the range of $422,500 to $497,100, with the possibility of a bonus of up to 33 per cent of his salary. To put this in perspective, the head of one Canadian Crown Corporation makes nearly twice as much as the Prime Minister of Canada. Along with Chopra as president and CEO, Canada Post has two “group presidents,” seven senior vice-presidents and 12 vice-presidents, according to the management team listed on the Crown Corporation’s website. Despite an annual loss for the first time in 15 years, this management team continues to receive bonuses for amounts which Canada Post refuses to disclose.
Ruth Breen is a postal worker based in Fredericton.