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St. John's Canada Post temporary workers fed up

Canada Post workers demonstrated outside the Kenmount Road location on Thursday. They say temporary workers — many of whom have been with the Crown corporation for five to 10 years — receive no benefits, job security, raises or rotation of duties, which prevents repetitive strain. -JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM
Canada Post workers demonstrated outside the Kenmount Road location on Thursday. They say temporary workers — many of whom have been with the Crown corporation for five to 10 years — receive no benefits, job security, raises or rotation of duties, which prevents repetitive strain. -JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM - Saltwire

Employees hold Thursday demonstration; say Snowmageddon highlighted their 'awful situation'

Roughly 30 Canada Post workers at the Kenmount Road location used their Thursday lunch hour to demonstrate in the parking lot.

For temporary workers at the plant, Stormageddon highlighted their “awful situation.”

That’s how Canadian Union of Postal Workers St. John’s local 126 spokesperson and past-president Craig Dyer describes what’s happening with temporary workers.

He said that for a few years Canada Post has been deleting permanent positions when people retire or transfer, not filling the jobs and instead relying on temporary labour.

According to Dyer, the temporary workers — many of whom have been with the Crown corporation for five to 10 years — receive no benefits, job security, raises or rotation of duties, which prevents repetitive strain.

“The temporaries have come to us, the union leadership, and said, ‘We’re tired of this.’ And the trigger, we believe, was when they were sitting home (during the state of emergency) not able to work, and the mail was there and they didn’t get any pay. These people want to work.”

Dyer said that during the state of emergency, while other employees were paid, Canada Post did not pay temporary workers who work on an on-call basis, even though many of them typically get called every day and work Monday to Friday.

“The workers are getting upset, and it really blew up with Snowmageddon.”

That’s why workers, union executive, and even other union representatives such as Jerry Earle with Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, demonstrated in solidarity outside Canada Post on Thursday from noon to 12:30 p.m.

“This is a great start,” Dyer told the gathered crowd.

“If we don’t have any success, we’ll escalate the actions.”

He wouldn’t elaborate on how the union would escalate. The union has not been permitted to strike since they were legislated back to work in 2018. That’s why the demonstration was held over the lunch hour when workers were on a break.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers St. John’s local 126 spokesperson and past-president Craig Dyer speaks at the demonstration. –JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM
Canadian Union of Postal Workers St. John’s local 126 spokesperson and past-president Craig Dyer speaks at the demonstration. –JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM

In the middle of Dyer’s speech to the crowd, one worker spoke up:

“What happened to Trudeau and the middle class? We’re not even middle class anymore,” she said.

Another temporary worker shouted: “We make seven dollars less an hour (than permanent workers)!”

The main aim of the demonstration was to get some of the jobs filled.

Dyer said the union calculated temporary employee hours in 2019, and there were enough to create at least 14 full-time jobs at the Kenmount Road plant.

He said that’s a significant number considering there’s roughly 200 people working at that location, 90 of whom are temporary workers. He argues the plant would not be able to operate without work being done by temporary staff.

He said there’s a job and a half that could be filled just with overtime hours of full-time employees.

Dyer said the collective agreement says 78 per cent of the workforce has to be full-time or regular staff, but St. John’s is “far below that average,” and Canada Post gets around the percentage because it’s a national average.

People gathered alluded to the increase in using temporary workers across all industries.

“This isn’t only Canada Post; this is what’s happening in our world today, and it’s got to stop,” said Dyer.

Canada Post: 'We collaborated with the union'

Phil Legault, of Canada Post's media relations, said the Crown corporation spent a lot of time with the local union representatives discussing delivery and processing strategies, and the approach to compensation during the state of emergency.

He said that approach to compensation was consistent with the collective agreement and national practices.

"We collaborated with the union to incorporate their ideas into our plans," Legault told The Telegram via email.

"We communicated how compensation would be consistently handled with all employees, from full-time to on-call temporary workers."

He said Canada Post's priority for mail delivery once the state of emergency was lifted was keeping employees safe while delivering as much priority mail as possible, and then catching up on the backlog.

"We are working with the union on a new schedule and strategies that balance making better use of our full-time employees while still offering our temporary workers fair and balanced hours of work, and the realities of our changing business and the flexibility required for our situation in this area, specifically inconsistent mail flow resulting from weather and transportation delays."

juanita.mercer@thetelegram.com

@juanitamercer_

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