After protracted intransigence at the bargaining table over fundamental human rights issues, a long over-due intervention by the government, and a united and militant fight against concessions put up by the union with the full support of the public, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers finally has a tentative two-year deal with Canada Post.
The deal halts managements vicious attack on the workers’ pensions, preventing two-tier pensions. It doubles paramedical benefits for Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers, who are predominantly women, raising extended healthcare benefits for these workers to the same level as urban operations. While the illegal gendered 28% pay gap between urban and rural employees remains, the union did win a major human rights victory, establishing a process to finally resolve this shocking pay discrepancy within nineteen months.
The agreement is currently being voted on by the membership. If ratified, the CUPW will have won a pause from the table in their fight against the onslaught of privatization, threatening to destroy Canada’s public Post Office.
As if to remind the postal workers of how short this pause will be, however, within days the Trudeau Liberals released Canada Post in the Digital Age. This discussion paper about the future of the Post Office talks about small measures like turning Post Offices into Wifi hubs in rural and remote areas. Dangerously, it proposes keeping Harper’s door-to-door delivery cuts, and taking an axe to more jobs by stepping up the push for “super mail boxes.” It calls for alternating home delivery, as well as charging people fees for home mail delivery.
The report promotes Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra’s misleading claim that the workers’ pensions are in crisis, while rejecting public, community-based alternatives for the post office, like postal banking. Through its network of 6,000 postal outlets across Canada, including in rural and northern communities, postal banking could provide basic financial services for everyone.
The Liberals have let CEO Chopra, Harper’s man in Canada Post, continue to conduct a massive disinformation campaign aimed at turning the public against postal workers and their union, CUPW. This disinformation includes the assertions that Canada Post is losing money when in fact it is generating considerable profits every year; and the wild and unsubstantiated statement that the union’s opening offer in bargaining would cost $1 billion.
At the same time, the corporation also refuses to consider adding new business services to offset the decline in mail volume, preferring instead to use the ‘create-a-crisis’ strategy to privatize public services and assets like Canada Post. In the process the corporation clearly hopes to derail the public review of Canada Post’s services now underway.
We call on the federal government to act upon the many well‑founded proposals by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to build the customer base of Canada Post, while reducing carbon emissions. The Harper Conservative cuts to delivery services, prices hikes and elimination of jobs must be reversed, and postal services substantially expanded. There is a direct connection between the destruction of thousands of jobs at Canada Post, the decline of Canadian manufacturing and the loss of 500,000 jobs under NAFTA, and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These developments are all part of the corporate drive to make the working class pay the costs for the 2008 global capitalist crisis, which continues today.
There are huge issues left unresolved at Canada Post, and the two-year agreement is a short time frame. This is not a time to relax: it remains urgent to stand in full solidarity with CUPW during the weeks and months ahead. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have frequently tried to weaken this militant, democratic and socially progressive trade union.
The Communist Party calls on the labour and people’s movements, and all those concerned with the preservation of public services and free collective bargaining rights, to defend the public post office, oppose privatization, expand postal services, defend the right to free collective bargaining and support CUPW!