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UPDATED: Canada Post workers to demonstrate Thursday

Canada Post letter carrier Wayne Kenny (left) and Craig Dyer, president of CUPW Local 126, chat outside the plant entrance on Tuesday.
Canada Post letter carrier Wayne Kenny (left) and Craig Dyer, president of CUPW Local 126. - Joe Gibbons

Concerns with temporary workforce ‘blew up with Snowmaggedon’

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

For temporary workers with Canada Post in St. John’s, Stormageddon highlighted their “awful situation.”

That’s how Canadian Union of Postal Workers St. John’s local spokesperson and past-president Craig Dyer describes what’s happening with temporary workers at Canada Post’s 98 Kenmount Rd. location.

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 workers.


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


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

“The corporation calls them in and puts them on a trailer for eight hours, where if I went in, I’d be on the trailer for two hours, a conveyer belt for another two hours, probably back to the trailer and probably sorting mail.

“So, 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.”

A community mailbox in St. John's remains buried in the days following January's record-breaking snowfall. - SaltWire File Photo
A community mailbox in St. John's remains buried in the days following January's record-breaking snowfall. - SaltWire File Photo

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.”

The workers and union executive will demonstrate outside Canada Post on Kenmount Road on Thursday from noon to 12:30 p.m.

“This is the start of it, and this is to send a message to local Canada Post management that we’re tired of being abused. We’re tired of not having any rights.”

The main aim of the demonstration is 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 are about 65 people working at that location. He says the plant would not be able to operate without work being done by temporary staff.

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.”

He said Canada Post gets around the percentage because it’s a national average.

Moreover, Dyer said the delay in mail delivery after the Jan. 17 storm was exacerbated by this issue with temporary staff.

“One example is there was a Saturday night during Stormageddon that they couldn’t get a forklift operator in because they were exhausted. They were working literally around the clock, and to come in on a Saturday night after working six or seven days, they just said no. Now, if they had the right staff in place, they probably would have had the opportunity to get people in to offload those trucks. That’s just one small example.

“We’ve always said that they don’t have sufficient staff in place in St. John’s, and the weather is a great excuse to blame delaying the mail, but that’s not always the correct excuse.”

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."

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

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