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Canada Post facilities 'back to normal' in Halifax

Union vice president Mike Keefe says the postal service is all caught up after its two month strike
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Canada Post's sorting facility on Almon Street in Halifax (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

Canada Post facilities are back to their normal holiday volumes in Halifax after two months of rotating strikes. 

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) vice president Mike Keefe told NEWS 95.7's Todd Veinotte that the facilities have caught up to their backlogs and he expects mail to arrive as usual.

Now the union is challenging the backdoor legislation that forced them back to work. They filed a charter challenge on Tuesday to protect their right to strike and negotiate better contracts moving forward. 

In 2011, postal workers on strike were legislated back to work under the Harper government, which was declared unlawful by the supreme court as it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Keefe says the Trudeau legislation was practically identical as 2011's, especially in it's fining structure. Striking workers are fined $1,000 per day, union officers are fined $50,000 per day, and the union itself fined $100,000 per day. 

"We're kind of upset about that," said Keefe. 

"From about two months into the negotiations we asked for mediation services because we wanted to show the public and the government and Canada Post that we were serious about getting a negotiated contract because we feel an arbitrated contract is just going to prolong the problems that we're having with injuries, with inequality and with overwork," he said. 

Keefe says none of the offers made by Canada Post address those issues. 

The union has crunched some numbers from Stats Can and found that "our numbers are going to suffer at least 315 disabling injuries between Nov. 27 and Christmas. The rural and suburban carriers are going to work roughly 250,000 unpaid hours, and the letter carriers are going to work thousands of hours of forced overtime."

"Anybody that thinks we're lazy are really uninformed," said Keefe. "We work hard. The majority of our workers are extremely conscientious and Canada Post uses that against us. 

Keefe says the union would like to see changes to letter carrier's route measurement systems to allow for more time for deliveries. Currently, letter carriers are forgoing breaks and rushing routes in order to complete their deliveries on time. 

He would also like to see changes happen to the way rural and suburban carriers are paid. In urban centres, Canada Post workers are paid an hourly rate, but rural and suburban carriers are paid a dollar for each parcel, plus gas and mileage costs. He says this method is "fundamentally flawed." 

"They do almost exclusively the exact same job, yet the way that the rural and suburban carriers are paid is just wrong," he said. 

While it's been a rough couple of months according to Keefe, he's glad to have seen so much public support compared to the 2011 strikes. 

"We had businesses buying us pizzas, we had people coming to the picket line with coffee and doughnuts." 

Christmas remains a very busy time of year for Canada Post workers, but Keefe is adamant that all facilities are running as they normally would. 




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Danielle McCreadie

About the Author: Danielle McCreadie

Danielle spent a year freelancing for various publications in Halifax and did a brief stint at HalifaxToday.ca before making the move to radio.
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