The strategy by Canada Post Corporation (CPC) and the federal government to weaken public mail delivery continues, according to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, after its Corporate Plan was tabled in Parliament on April 16. 


“Canada Post has a history of projecting losses and then outperforming their projections, while using those projections to cry poor to the public and at the bargaining table,” said Mike Palecek, CUPW National President. “This plan underscores the Corporation’s aversion to building a sustainable post office of the future.”


Last year, the Liberal government announced that its vision for Canada Post called for reinvestments into service initiatives and innovation. That was good news for CUPW, which has called to use Canada Post’s revenue to expand and provide new services like postal banking, senior check-ins, broadband, and more services at postal counters. Instead, the union says Canada Post wants to cut services, putting an extra strain on an already overburdened workforce, where serious injuries have increased by 39 percent over the last two years.


The Corporate Plan language suggests that Canada Post sees pension payments and pay equity as the source of its perceived financial woes.


“For decades, Canada Post was not complying with pay equity law and exploiting women workers,” said Palecek. “Finally, these women have justice and Canada Post is in no position to complain about finally following the law.”


While CPC depicts the pay equity settlement as a financial burden, the union says “for decades they were ... exploiting a female-predominant group of workers. Because of our pay equity process and the hard work of our pay equity committee, they’re not getting away with it anymore. RSMCs have a right to pay equity, and CPC must pay. They’re in no position to complain about it.”


The Corporate Plan suggests that Canada Post will have to make special payments to the pension fund based on the solvency deficit. In 2014, CPC got an exemption from making the special payments. In fact, the union notes that the pension has a surplus on a going-concern basis – the sustainability measure that matters. CUPW also agrees that Canada Post had a good case for a permanent exemption from the solvency test, and should be making this case to the government instead of waving a paper-tiger deficit over the heads of its workers.


Unlike in the past, the “Corporate Plan for 2019 to 2023” was not shared in advance with the union.


“With the new chair and directors on the CPC board, a new CEO, and a renewed mandate form the federal government last January, this plan could have turned that corner," said CUPW. "But, although the doom-and-gloom is toned down, it predicts losses for Canada Post. We have long experience of CPC projecting losses, then outperforming their projections, while in the meantime they have used the projections to cry poor at the bargaining table.”


The union was approaching improvements to some issues at the bargaining table in 2018, such as around injuries and overtime. The federal back-to-work legislation halted bargaining, says the union, "but it’s not too late for the government to send CPC’s negotiators back to the table to work out a negotiated settlement – the only kind of settlement that can resolve key issues and allow us to look to the future."


(The above article is from the May 1-15, 2019, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)