Man, I ordered some awesome stuff a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers decided to go on strike, leaving me to live with the limited supply of cool T-shirts I have now.
“The media is out there saying we [were] on strike — we’re not on strike. We had one day [of rotating strike] in Victoria and then we got locked out,” says local CUPW president Janet Barney.
Oh? Never mind.
Barney adds the union had planned a rotating strike — amounting to reduced hours for postal workers, but still allowing for mail delivery while negotiations were underway — when Canada Post told workers that the arrangement was far too expensive and shut down operations.
“We’re a public service, we’re here to serve the public,” says Barney. “We [were] willing, but Canada Post said ‘no’.”
Still, the postal workers probably just want higher wages. That’s what unions are all about, right?
“We’re fighting for the next generation,” says Barney, effortlessly shooting down my assumptions. “What the corporation wants to do is make the younger generation work more and get paid less.”
She goes on to explain that Canada Post’s proposal to CUPW included, among other points of contention, a new two-tiered system which would see new hires brought in with a weaker benefits package and lower wages than workers hired under the current contract. Add to that the 60-something jobs lost in Victoria over the past year, and it seems like postal workers had a legitimate reason to protest last week in response to the now successful federal back-to-work legislation.
Denis Lemelin, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, says union members will obey the back-to-work order. But adds CUPW will closely examine the legislation that passed on the weekend, and the union plans to take an aggressive stance during the upcoming arbitration process.
With friends and neighbours being denied the right to strike, organize and to seek a better life for themselves and their comrades, I’m finding it hard to even think of my new T-shirts now. M