Fighting Back: Locals Rising to Occasion to Keep Our Workplace and Community Safe

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Wednesday April 15 2020
2019-2023/114 - FINAL VERSION

In these unprecedented times, everywhere, postal workers deliver, showing once again the crucial role we have in keeping the country going. We matter, and, as always, the struggle continues. Workplace dignity does not arise by wishful thinking, but rather, by sticking together to take measures that protect us all.

However uncertain and worrying things are, postal workers know how to take care of each other, and insist that the Employer put their health and safety first. These past weeks have seen incredible measures taken collectively by workers at Canada Post. Shop floor and local action can inspire change.

We know that operations frequently cut corners, and use our bodies as machines, resulting in bullying behavior by some in management. It is also clear how important we are in keeping the post office running for those who need it.

Several locals that have applied pressure on Canada Post to implement much needed health and safety measures deserve mention. A short bulletin cannot capture all of them. Here are some:

  • In Regina, postal workers mobilized internally, with their community, and with the help of the media, succeeded in postponing the move from three depots to one mega depot. 
  • In Edmonton, shop floor actions and a list of demands resulted in management improving safety measures and implementing many of their demands. Although not all demands have been met, the local was successful in moving the employer to address a number of safety issues. 
  • Moose Jaw and Banff Locals, faced with an unresponsive CPC management, were instrumental in kick starting signage and physical distancing procedures, among other safety measures, to ensure workers and those using the post office would be safer. 
  • In an amazing display of solidarity, the Montreal Local held actions at the entrances of local hospitals to show solidarity with front line health care workers. They used physical distancing and also drove Canada Post vehicles to a hospital in a visible show of support for the sacrifice of health care workers. Others, including the Winnipeg and London Locals, took this great example of solidarity and repeated these actions. 

  • Workers exercised their individual right of refusal en masse in Lunenberg, at the Bridgewater Local, after which physical distancing and cleaning of retail took place. In Cornerbrook, after weeks of requesting deep cleaning which CPC had agreed to, workers refused to work. By the following Monday, the cleaning had taken place.
  • In Kirkland Lake, workers held a collective break to express their concerns over delivering admail. Carriers, instructed to go door to door to deliver advertising, even without mail, received complaints from the public. There was also no plastic sheeting in retail, let alone plexiglass. As a result, delivery was modified, and real Plexiglass, not merely plastic sheeting, was installed. 
  • After union interventions in Toronto, two-meter lines, installed on the exit ways of the main plant, and a physical distancing line created in the cafeterias, resulted in the removal of some tables. Workstations on the floor were reduced, to ensure distancing. 

CUPW National has been in talks with Canada Post on a daily basis to advocate for its members’ health, safety and livelihood. The outstanding regular communication from locals and regional representatives has been instrumental in providing the Union with the necessary information regarding what is taking place on the work floor. Such collaboration, combined with local actions, helps all members stay safe and ensure their rights are respected. Let’s salute one another’s actions and grow our solidarity while the struggle continues.

 

In Solidarity,

Dave Bleakney
2nd National Vice-President