On April 17, the Canada Post Group of Companies released its 2012 Annual Report. The report covers the Canada Post segment, Purolator, SCI Group and Innovapost.
A press release summarized the report and emphasized that even though the Canada Group of Companies had a before-tax profit of $127 million and the Canada Post segment a before-tax profit of $98 million, that this was not really a profit. The Canada Post spokesperson explained that the result was created by “non-recurring and non-cash adjustments worth approximately $152 million. Furthermore, these adjustments were largely due to reductions in the future costs of sick leave and post-retirement health benefits. The savings were a result of major concessions made by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in the contract signed on December 21, 2012.
The report points out that without the “non-cash adjustments,” the Canada Post segment would have incurred a loss of $54 million.
In announcing the conclusions of the Annual Report, Canada Post representatives continue to make dire predictions about the viability of the Post Office, exaggerating and misrepresenting what they say are “rapidly declining mail volumes.”
One of the corporation’s outrageous claims is that “Compared to 2008, Canada Post is now delivering 23.6% less transaction mail per address. As a result, Canada Post expects a substantial financial loss in 2013. Canada Post must continue to explore and pursue opportunities to reshape its business and adjust its labour costs.”
When Canada Post claims that it is now “delivering 23.6% less transaction mail per address,” it misrepresents the actual mail volumes. They don’t explain that the 23.6 per cent is calculated by dividing the overall mail volumes by the total number of addresses. Each year there are hundreds of thousands of new addresses created. For instance in 2012 there were 157,000 new addresses created so even if the mail volume stayed the same the percentage of mail per address would naturally go down.
In fact the actual decline in first class mail volumes from the previous year is approximately six per cent and revenues from operations have actually remained relatively stable, around $7.5 billion. Clearly, the increase in parcel mail and severe staffing cuts, have more than made up for any decline in first class mail.
But mail volumes are really not the issue. We know that loss of revenues due to the internet, e-mail etc., have nothing to do with the cutbacks in services and the attack on postal workers. The plans for Postal Transformation have been in place since Moya Greene was appointed President of Canada Post in 2005.
She pointed out then that the goal of the corporation was to “modernize and revitalize Canada Post” in order to reorient it to serve big business. As far as postal workers are concerned, what Moya Greene stressed was that the approximately $2 billion investment over time was being made to take advantage of the fact that one-third of the workforce would be retiring in the coming years. She said, “This is an opportunity to synchronize modernization plans with the pace of retirements.” The overall plan being followed by the corporation since then is to systematically deregulate and privatize the Post Office to facilitate the takeover of the profitable sectors by international monopolies operating in postal services.
Since Deepak Chopra was appointed by Stephen Harper to head Canada Post in 2011, the destruction of the public post office has been accelerating.
The Annual Report brags about the unprecedented attacks on postal workers. The fact that after cutting thousands of positions and closing retail Postal Stations and mail processing plants, the overall revenues have remained the same shows the extent to which the exploitation of postal workers has intensified. Even with their distorted data they cannot hide their evil intentions.
Revenue from operations in 2011 was $7.484 billion while the cost of operations was $7.710 billion. In 2012, revenue from operations was $7.525 billion while the cost of operations was $7.398 billion. That is a reduction in operating costs of $312 million. This speaks volumes about the unsustainable working conditions of inside workers and the impossible route restructures imposed on letter carriers. It must not be forgotten that in the 13 major centers where Postal Transformation has been implemented, the Mail Service Couriers (truck drivers) have been almost eliminated. All the support work and parcel delivery performed by the Mail Service Couriers has been pushed onto the backs of the letter carriers.
The situation is untenable. Injuries have increased dramatically and disciplinary suspensions are used to force letter carriers to continue delivering mail long after their shifts are over. Despite the rosy picture painted in the Annual Report about “improved customer service,” the reality is that in this kind of situation it is impossible to provide mail service in an efficient manner. In fact mail often sits in letter carrier depots undelivered for days because of lack of staff. For inside workers, day shifts have been eliminated to the point that mail is stock-piled in tractor trailers and delayed until it can be processed by night shift workers.
No amount of lies and deception contained in the Annual Report can explain away the situation faced by workers at Canada Post. When the report talks about taking measures to “create greater operational flexibility to serve Canadians,” this means imposing a two-tier wage system, eliminating sick leave benefits and more attacks on the wages and post retirement benefits of the workers. It is the irrational drive for maximum profits. It must not pass!
Note: Louis Lang is a recently retired former CUPW local union president and a long-time activist. In his retirement, he often writes on issues of concern to postal workers and to the workers in general. You can reach him at email@example.com