The security of postal workers lies in their ability to fight for their rights

Mass picket of postal workers in New Glasgow, NS, June 11, 2010

Reject Canada Post blackmail to extort concessions!

LOUIS LANG on the tentative agreement between Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Canada Post

AFTER several weeks of secret negotiations a tentative agreement was reached between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). The union entered into discussion with the corporation under the threats of Final Offer Selection and other severe restrictions contained in the back-to-work legislation imposed by the Harper government. To make matters worse, the corporation put forward a new global offer with demands for additional concessions and roll-backs in July 2012.

The union is conducting votes on the tentative agreement from November 13 to December 19. The Negotiating Committee and the National Executive Board (NEB) are recommending that workers accept the agreement which contains devastating concessions. Many of the same concessions were rejected by postal workers less than a year ago, when they voted 94.5 per cent to give the union leadership a strike mandate to fight against Canada Post’s demands to gut the collective agreement.

The rollbacks in the tentative agreement include replacing sick leave benefits with a Short Term Disability plan administered by an outside contractor, the imposition of a two-tier wage system with newly hired workers paid $6 per hour less, and a major change to the Defined Benefit Pension Plan for new workers which will also result in a two-tiered pension plan. Injured workers would receive 75 per cent of their wages, down from the 100 per cent they presently receive while on injury-on-duty leave. Furthermore, the contract would be extended by one year, with no wage increase in the last year. These are just some of the most damaging concessions from the tentative agreement.

So what has changed? How does the NEB explain why it is recommending acceptance of provisions which the union vehemently denounced only a few months ago? In a tabloid issued for the information of workers attending ratification meetings the NEB claims that the CUPW is facing exceptional circumstances. In its message to members the NEB states, “We have reached the limit of negotiations. The majority of the NEB feels that this settlement would be better than what we could get through Final Offer Selection.” In his letter recommending acceptance of the agreement, National President Denis Lemelin stated, “The membership can either choose to accept the tentative settlement or we can place our destiny in the hands of a government-appointed arbitrator who will very likely impose a collective agreement which includes many more serious negative changes that will impact upon our pensions, benefits and job security.”

The tentative agreement is unacceptable for postal workers not only because of the serious rollbacks and concessions listed above, but because agreeing to it will keep the future security of postal workers in jeopardy.

The NEB claims that it reluctantly agreed to the negative aspects of the agreement because it wanted to protect workers from more dangerous rollbacks which would come in arbitration. What it fails to understand is that this agreement is not the result of negotiations. It was achieved by Canada Post and the Harper government through blackmail pure and simple. Right from the beginning of negotiations the corporation made it clear that the days of “collective bargaining” are a thing of the past, the security and business plans of the corporation trump the livelihood of the workers and “different solutions” will be used if the union doesn’t voluntarily give up all its rights.

By accepting this tentative agreement now, instead of protecting the workers we will leave the workers defenceless to more blackmail and further attacks in the future. This means that to face this situation the Union must act in a new way if it is to live up to its responsibility of being a genuine defence organization of the workers.

It is not true that “We have reached the limit of negotiations” as the NEB claims. Once again it has forgotten that the strength of the union is in its members. Without bringing the consciousness and superior numbers of the workers into the play how can we say that we have reached the limit of what can be done?

In this situation, the only way to guarantee the security of postal workers is to reject the tentative agreement and to send a message to Canada Post and the Harper government that concessions and austerity on the backs of the workers is not the solution.

For the union, acting in a new way in concrete terms means recognizing that the only guarantee for our security is our ability to organize and fight to defend our rights. This can only be done by involving all the workers in every local to take up the problems we face. If there is no “collective bargaining” then there will be no labour peace either. The weight of the whole organization must be put behind the struggle of workers all across the country where working conditions have become unbearable. This will give rise to fighting organizations of the Union at the local level with full involvement of the vast majority of workers. This is what is required at this time instead of the gloom and doom picture presented by the NEB.

The first step to turn things around is to reject the tentative agreement and prepare the workers for the battles to defend their rights.

TML Daily, November 13, 2012 – No. 142

Related articles on this weblog

Louis Lang. “Roll-backs and concessions demanded by Canada Post are unsustainable,” November 28, 2012

CUPW regions and locals, “Recommendations to Vote NO,” November 11, 2012

3 Comments

Filed under Working Class

3 responses to “The security of postal workers lies in their ability to fight for their rights

  1. Pingback: Recommendations to Vote No – CUPW locals and regions | Tony Seed’s Weblog

  2. Pingback: Roll-backs and concessions demanded by Canada Post are unsustainable | Tony Seed’s Weblog

  3. Pingback: Tony Seed’s Weblog

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