Christmas parcels more important than workers' rights, says Thompson CUPW president

Postal workers and other unions protest back-to-work legislation outside City Hall Dec. 1

Thompson postal workers and other union members gathered outside City Hall Dec. 1 in a show of solidarity against the federal government’s recent decision to legislate Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members employed by Canada Post back to work after rotating strikes.

“eBay said we need our parcels out,” said Natalie Dias, president of CUPW Local 839, which represents 16 Canada Post employees in Thompson. “We need Christmas to happen. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms got cancelled because of Christmas. That is a fear tactic that Canada Post used to force our government to legislate us back and they fell for it. They fell for all the lies that Canada Post has been splaying across the news just so they can get their way and fight us out of a fair contract.”

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Now that CUPW members are back to work, Dias said, they are being forced to work up to two hours of overtime today after refusing all overtime while taking job action during contract negotiations.

“We’ve been thrown into a chronic overtime craziness,” Dias said. “We are being overburdened, we are being overworked and they still want more. Why? Because of Canada Post’s greedy pockets. They’re so deep but they want them to be so filled with money. They want their employees' health, their safety to suffer from it because, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get those flyers out,’ don’t we? We’ve got to get those Christmas parcels and now we’ve got to get that cannabis out.”

The rally was also attended by Steelworkers, Thompson Labour Council members and members of the Thompson Teachers’ Association (TTA).

“It is so wrong that somebody is telling you you can’t negotiate,” said TTA president Cathy Pellizzaro. “That’s against the law and we are here to support you. Like you said, negotiate do not legislate. We’re in solidarity with CUPW and were always here with you.”

Dias says any delays in mail delivery in Thompson are more the result of a lack of employees than of recent strike action.

“We don’t have enough people to deliver all the mail in Thompson” without doing overtime and workers were not doing overtime while rotating strikes were on, she said, adding that she has heard that CUPW members have lost vacation and personal days now that an end to the strike has been imposed by the government.

She also said that the ire of postal workers was not directed at the job or at customers but at the way they have been treated by Canada Post.

“We’re proud to be CUPW members,” said Dias. “We’re proud to be posties. We’re proud of our customers for coming out.”

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