While a shirtless Trudeau hides in caves to spring up on unsuspecting visitors and photo bombs wedding photos, there are much more serious issues in store for him. One of those issues concerns a series of disputes between Canada Post, a Crown corporation, and its workers.
Saturday saw hundreds of Canada Post employees and their supporters marching to the Prime Minister’s office. Carrying flags and banners and chanting slogans, the postal workers all wanted one thing – to push the negotiations with Canada Post forward.
But who are these people? What do they actually want?
If you’ve not been following this story, don’t worry. Here’s a brief overview of the situation.
The unionized postal workers have long been engaged in negotiations with Canada Post on various key issues including, but not limited to pensions and equal pay. However, they believe progress is slow and sluggish. According to Sylvain Lapointe, “It’s still in discussion, but the files aren’t moving forward. The big issues are still on the table.”
Saturday’s protest was their reaction to the poor pace of the negotiations process. Marching towards and protesting outside the Prime Minister’s office is their way of calling the government to pressurize Canada Post to pursue the negotiations in good faith with the workers.
Rising Tensions And The Threat Of Lockout
The trouble with Canada Post and the union workers has been brewing for a long time. Canada Post had originally issued a threat of lockout. However, they withdrew the threat on July 10 to favor negotiations with the workers.
Since then, the snail-paced negotiations have been a cause for frustration for the workers who want quick progress on their demands.
Here’s what the union wants.
There’s a key difference between how rural/suburban and urban mail carriers are paid. Urban mail carriers, rather than being paid based on the amount of work they do, are paid by the hour. On the other hand, many rural and suburban workers are paid based on the number of packages they deliver in any given day.
Wage parity between rural, urban, and suburban workers is one of the most contentious issues in the whole affair. According to Mike Palecek, around 70 percent of suburban carriers are women who ultimately end up making 28 percent less than their male counterparts.
“We have a prime minister that has been advocating for pay equity, but yet the most glaring case of pay equity left in the federal public sector – here of the rural and suburban mail carriers of Canada Post – remains completely unresolved,” according to Palecek.
Canada Post wants to change its workers’ pension plan as well. It wants to offer the workers a defined contribution plan in place of the already existing defined benefit plan. As the name suggests, a defined contribution plans are funded primarily by the workers as a portion of their salary goes into the retirement package.
The defined benefit plan, on the other hand, is paid for by the employer and takes into account factors such as the number of years of experience. By retiring the retirement benefit plan, Canada Post aims to cut cost and design a pension plan similar to the private sector.