About two dozen Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members and supporters rallied in front of city hall in Castlegar on Thursday, calling for members of the public to express their concern to the minister of labour.
“The reason that we decided to have our demo here instead of at the post office is because city hall is the community seat of our government,” said Cindy McCallum Miller, shop steward for CUPW Castlegar.
“It’s our representation, the heart of the community, and postal workers are members of this community and service we want to provide, and do provide, we think is important to this community.”
She told the crowd that everyone needs to stand together and tell Canada Post what they’re doing is wrong.
“We’re fighting for good jobs here in Castlegar and we’re fighting for good jobs across the country and that’s what our negotiations have been all about since last October,” she said.
Canada Post, for its part, described its latest offer to the CUPW as fair and said it wants to get back to the bargaining table.
“Canada Post chief executive officer Deepak Chopra is prepared to again meet with Denis Lemelin, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), to discuss the fair offer that has been tabled by the company,” the company stated in a news release. “Mr. Chopra expects that Mr. Lemelin will come to the meeting with a meaningful offer that addresses declining mail volumes, competitiveness, and a $3.2-billion solvency deficit in the pension plan.”
McCallum Miller said at the Castlegar rally that postal workers want to deliver the mail, but have been unable to due to the lockout.
“They’re punishing the members of the public by reducing mail delivery and then by locking us out and holding mail hostage and they should be ashamed of themselves for that,” she said.
One of the biggest issues, she added, is that Canada Post is not setting workers up for retirement by rolling back on contracts and cutting service.
“Postal workers have been standing strong and saying we cannot as workers in this economy accept rollbacks,” she said. “That’s not a way to build an economic recovery by workers taking less, and less and less.”
In a video message to employees posted online on Thursday, Chopra said Canada Post had no choice but to suspend its operations.
“This was one of the toughest decision I’ve ever made,” Chopra said. “I’m painfully aware of the hardship it will cause our employees. They all have families to feed and bills to pay. I sincerely regret this hardship.”
“While the action may seem harsh,” he added, “we did it intending to bring the issue to a head. The alternative may have been another two or three weeks of rotating strikes followed by a full strike. Neither you nor Canada Post could afford that.”
Members from the B.C. Government Employees’ Union, BC Carpenters Union and Hospital Employees’ Union were also present supporting the CUPW in the Castlegar rally.
The CUPW began rotating strikes across the country on June 2.
On Tuesday this week, Canada Post announced they would be locking out the 48,000 unionized workers in order to force a timely resolution.