Postal workers picketing in Campbell River on Oct. 31. NDP MP Blaney is crying foul over legislation that would force postal employees to end rotating strikes. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

MP Blaney takes a stand for postal workers, citing high injury rates and long overtime hours

Liberal government poised to pass back-to-work legislation during weekend

NDP MP Rachel Blaney expressed outrage on Friday about the Liberal government’s plans to force postal employees back to work, and she called on Canada Post to address high rates of injury and long overtime hours cited by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

Blaney, who represents the North Island-Powell River riding in the House of Commons, described the Trudeau government’s back-to-work legislation as “a sad way of addressing a really important labour issue.”

The workplace is becoming more hazardous as postal workers handle increasing volumes of parcels and packages – rather than letters – in the expanding e-commerce market, she said.

“Postal working has changed dramatically in the last several years,” Blaney said. “Now they’re moving a lot of packages, and that’s a totally different job.”

READ MORE: No charges pending after driver confronts picket line in Campbell River

CUPW has reported that postal workers get injured more frequently than any other group of federal workers, with an injury rate 5.4 times higher than the federal sector average.

Blaney also echoed the union’s objections to forced overtime hours, saying that demands on postal workers make it impossible for them to have a balanced life. The union has said that staff are overstretched.

“It’s one thing if you do a bit of overtime once in a while,” she said. “Some of these folks have been doing overtime for days and weeks and months and not getting acknowledged for that.”

The union, which represents some 50,000 workers, has been refusing overtime and staging rotating strikes across the country.

Blaney said the union chose rolling strikes to avoid damaging the interests of small businesses that rely on the postal service, and she argued that Canada Post has exaggerated the extent of backlogs.

READ MORE: Canada Post responds to B.C. mail carrier’s claims of questionable tactics during strike

When rotating strikes hit Campbell River, constituents reported receiving paycheques in the mail despite the job action, she said. Postal employees have ensured that old-age pensions and income assistance cheques get to their destination quickly, she said.

“These workers have been absolutely committed to making sure that the mail and the parcels are delivered,” Blaney said.

She accused Canada Post of promoting what she described as a false impression that postal workers were causing major service disruptions.

“This is the very reason they did rotating strikes, so there wouldn’t be huge waits on small business or on communities,” she said. “It’s unfortunate for me to hear workers being blamed.”

While some residents have expressed outrage about disruptions – especially ahead of the holiday season – Blaney called for people to support the striking postal workers.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island postal worker accuses Canada Post of questionable tactics during strike

“Remember that postal worker are a part of our community,” she said. “I think we have to remember that these are human beings.”

She also suggested that negotiations were made untenable when the government indicated that it would pass back-to-work legislation. A debate on that bill is slated for Friday night in the House of Commons, and Blaney said she’d be delivering a speech in support of the union.

Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu introduced the legislation on Thursday. Bill C-89 states that “the work stoppages are having a significant adverse impact on Canadian workers, consumers and businesses as well as on those Canadians who rely on postal services.”

Hadju said in a statement on Thursday that the postal service was important for Canadians, “especially during the busy holiday season” and that the government would pass legislation to keep goods moving.

She urged Canada Post and the union to negotiate an agreement immediately.

“We still believe a deal is possible and I continue to encourage the parties to get to a deal before the legislation is passed,” she said.

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Courtenay widow turns to Town of Comox for commemorative item to honour late husband

After being turned down by City of Courtenay, Laurance Stratton found Comox more receptive

Boomer Jerritt next North Island College Artist Talk speaker

Acclaimed Comox Valley photographer, artist and world traveller Boomer Jerritt is coming… Continue reading

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

School district launches catchment consultation process in the Comox Valley

Comox Valley Schools is commencing an important boundary catchment consultation process beginning… Continue reading

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. scouting group’s tent destroyed by black bear on Thanksgiving

The Richmond-based Sea Dragon Sea Scouts were camping at Mount Seymour Provincial Park

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for western Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

Most Read