There were several key health and safety issues that were included in our program of demands and there are many questions about the status of these demands. We were determined throughout this round to force Canada Post to improve health and safety and working conditions.
One of the early successes during this round was signing language that decreased the maximum amount a RSMC must lift from 66 pounds to 50 pounds. This is an important gain and will do much to protect the health and safety of our RSMC members.
Another important health and safety issue is the time of day that unaddressed admail is prepared. By achieving our demand, this allows letter carriers to prepare unaddressed admail at the end of their workday and not in the morning prior to departure. This means that letter carriers are finishing their day inside instead of out on the street.
We also made some important progress in the establishment of a social steward network. Appendix “T”(1) – Labour-Management Relationship Committee includes an agreement for the parties to focus their efforts on “identifying means of supporting employees in need.” Appendix “T” includes funds that can be used for projects and we can utilize this to work on building our Social Steward network so that we can support and protect our members suffering from psychological challenges.
In every round of negotiations, it is not possible to achieve all of our demands and this round was no different. One of the most important health and safety demands was to eliminate the multiple bundle delivery methods and have letter carriers merge mail in their cases. We pushed hard to achieve this demand to the eleventh hour but in the end, it was not there. This was one of the difficult choices that we had to make when reviewing the tentative agreements. This issue is not gone, as the national grievance is still active and we will aggressively pursue this through that process. We were also unable to improve the language around our right to refuse. We must continue to work on improving this language, while at the same time lobbying the Federal Government to correct the definition of “danger” in the Canada Labour Code.
We are still faced with many challenges to improve health and safety for all CUPW members. One of the advantages of having two-year collective agreements is that we will be able to carry on where we left off in this round. The groundwork for improved health and safety has been established and these improvements are achievable if Canada Post comes to the table in the next round with a mandate to actually negotiate health and safety issues. We are confident that all the work that has been done during this round will be invaluable in the next round.