Highest Profits in Their History

by John Ball

CUPW“I wore a pedometer to work today. Had it accurately calibrated to my stride. I started it as I left the house this morning and I think I'm finished any serious walking now for the day. So my total steps...27,654 (20.18 km)
Total steps for my route...24,430 (17.8 km)

Carrying that further, based on 17.8 km per day, then it's 89 km per week, 356 km per month and 4,183 km annually, based on a 47 week, work year. So let's say you're a 30 year carrier. You will have walked about 125,490 km during your career; slightly less due to more vacation time as the years go by. That's 77,803.8 miles! That's more than 3 times around the world!"

The above comment is from a rank and file Letter Carrier from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. 

On June 26, after being locked out of work by Canada Post, the Harper Government's legislation was passed through the Conservative controlled senate imposing a Collective Agreement on Postal Workers that involves the use of final offer selection. This legislation also instructs the arbitrator, who is appointed by the Federal Minister of Labour to meet certain criteria.

This arbitrator is to be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with those in comparable postal industries and that will provide the necessary degree of flexibility to ensure the short and long term economic viability and competitiveness of the Canada Post Corporation, maintain the health and safety of its workers and ensure the sustainability of its pension plan, taking into account;

(a) That the solvency ratio of the pension plan must not decline as a direct result of the new collective agreement; and

(b) that the Canada Post Corporation must, without recourse to undue increases in postal rates, operate efficiently, improve productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.

This legislation has nothing to do with Collective Bargaining and was passed only to crush the resistance of Postal Workers to massive cuts imposed by the employer during negotiations.

Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers were advised by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on July 22, 2011 that Justice Coulter Arthur Anthony Osborne had been appointed arbitrator, nearly a month after back-to-work legislation was passed by Parliament.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers isn't satisfied with Raitt's choice for arbitrator and is making preparations to challenge it in Federal Court. The union's lawyers are working on an affidavit and plan to file it shortly. They intend to go to the Federal Court and ask that Minister Raitt … appoint someone who is bilingual and has experience in labour relations," Denis Lemelin, CUPW president, told CBC News on Thursday. "It's not about the judge, I think he has his own experience … but he doesn't have experience in labour relations and he's not bilingual and that's something important for us."

And where was the emergency that required draconian back to work legislation? Canada Post has just announced their highest profits in their history.  Canada Post Corporation, on August 18, 2011, reported a record net profit of $443 million. Fully $315 million was due to income from operations, which makes 2010 Canada Post’s second-best year for Income from Operations. CPC's 2010 Return on Equity (ROE) of 21.8% also set a new record; in the 29 years since 1981,when Canada Post became a Crown Corporation Canada Post had never achieved a ROE greater than 17%. Much of the success of Canada Post during this period of slow economic growth has been as a result of productivity improvements. For example, between 2007 and 2010 the number of paid hours in mail processing decreased by 15.9% while volume decline was only 10.2%.

There is a new mindset that Canadian workers must reduce their benefits and weaken their working conditions in order to meet the financial crises that has been created by the financiers in their haste to make obscene profits from derivatives and hedge funds. The results are weakened Unions and a society where the rich do not have to pay taxes as the Conservatives heed only the advice of such institutions as the Fraser Institute and other right wing think tanks and reduce taxes to the rich and slowly dismantle the nation’s infrastructure.

Is the attack on postal worker benefits and union rights the first step to privatization of Canada Post? We sincerely hope not!


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