Members of the Penticton local with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) were picketing outside of the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre today in relation to the recent federal legislation that put an end to the union’s rotating strike with Canada Post.
“All Canadians should be really afraid of what’s happening right now. Denying us our constitutional right to strike is a really scary thing,” said Debbie Attrill, vice president of the Penticton union’s branch. “All workers benefit from the things that unions fight for. Maternity leave would never have come about without CUPW.”
Attrill said despite public perception, mail was still being delivered throughout the union’s rotating strikes across the area. She said because the workers were striking in relation to not being paid overtime, it meant there was a delay for some people in receiving their mail if the carrier couldn’t finish their route during regular hours.
“I know that my customers were still getting their mail everyday, I was off on strike one day,” said Attrill. “Every other day, they did deliver. We boycotted overtime which meant some people saw a day or two delay.”
The back-to-work legislation implemented by the Liberal government means that these workers are no longer allowed to strike and, subsequently, their requests throughout the negotiation process remain unanswered.
“Aside from overtime pay, we were hoping for more help with health and safety. Because of the overburdening of our members, our injury rate has gone through the roof,” said Attrill. “We are the most injured federal sector there is. We also were hoping that Canada Post would lead by example for the rest of the nation with our community power negotiations.”
Attrill said “(they) have the largest fleet in all of Canada” so the union was hoping Canada Post would consider “changing these over to electric vehicles.”
“I believe now that they’re bringing in an arbitrator so we’ll be forced to live with whatever the government decides, I really hope they make the corporation not make us work for free,” said Attrill. “I believe that is unconstitutional – we waited and in 2011 we tried to fight this and its only gotten worse. We were legislated back to work then and we’re legislated back now, so they’re just ignoring the situation.”
Attrill said the people of Penticton can expect to see her and other union members continue to picket throughout the community until the situation comes to a resolution. She added that members of unions have stepped forward showing support for their cause.
“We’re not asking for the moon, we’re asking for basic human rights. We’re asking to be paid for the hours that we work, we’re asking to not be forced to work overtime everyday of the week. We’re asking for health and safety – look into why these injuries are happening, hire more people,” said Attrill. “They knew this was coming since last December when our contract expired, and to legislate us back just weeks before Christmas is totally unfair.”