As you all know, we have suffered another major staffing realignment on May 12, 2013. Within a six months period, from November 2012 up to May 12 we have lost a total of 71 positions at the Ottawa Mail Processing Plant (OMPP). Since May 12, we have lost further positions due to retirements.
At the time of the union/management consultations, the workers had analysed that management’s proposals to cut staff throughout the plant and abolish two day shifts altogether were based on them seeking to have more work done by fewer people by intensifying the level of toil of each worker so as to increase productivity and profitability for the corporation.
The OMPP is now operating the inside mail processing activities with only 408 workers. We also must keep in mind that the current staffing level stems from years of continuous decreases in the number of full-time and part-time positions as a result of adjustments being made almost every six months.
We constantly come under pressure of having to do more work with fewer people. For example, the recent staffing realignment for the short and long section of transaction mail included 5 positions based on an assessment of the workload for the workers labelled by management as being “permanent partially disabled” (PPD).
Two days after the staffing realignment, management added the work which used to be performed by one person in the oversize section to the responsibilities of the 5 workers. Since the staffing realignment, the total workload has never been performed by more than 3 workers. Next week, due to the summer holidays, there will be only 2 workers.
Another example is on Tuesday July 9, 2013, there was a total of 147 tubs of mail to be sorted on the short and long prime of which 50 tubs were originating mail from the street letter box collections that was committed for 8:00 in the morning. This mail did not go out and was not processed by the day shift and this, contrary to the past where management ensured the originating mail continued to be processed until it was completely sorted and out to the stations.
The mail left over from night shift indicates that there are not enough sorters there to make the mail commitment and with management’s new policy of not allowing any sortation of mail on the day shift, this means that the bulk of the work was left to the evening shift to perform on top of their regular workload.
Despite the situation, management offered the day shift workers leave without pay and other types of leave saying that there was not much mail and the volumes where down. Yet the originating mail was left behind and no assistance was provided to those carrying out the work of the 5 positions.
In doing this, the management is trying to shift the work that should have been done on the day shift to the evening shift while doubling the workload of that shift and telling the day shift workers that they are not required. Our experience teaches us that management is creating conditions for the elimination of the day shift compliment in the short and long section of transaction mail. If they succeed in doing so, they will have eliminated all 3 day shifts in that section by simply intensifying the level of toil on the evening shift.
The same thing can be observed in the pubs and adds section where the work day on day shift was divided on the basis of 4 hours of hard labour and 4 hours of milder labour. While on the one hand, the management is trying to increase the hours of hard labour, on the other, it is telling the day shift workers that the volumes are down and that they can take leave without pay or any other types of leave. They also organise to make “deals” with the workers by offering them longer breaks and lunch times.
However, in the same section, the workers on the night shift are working 8 hours of hard labour and this is extremely difficult on them especially when the workers feel all the aches and pains after having worked so many years processing parcels. For some, this situation makes it very hard for them to continue hanging in there.
During the last staffing realignment, the oversize section has been completely depleted and some workers have suffered injuries since. Keep in mind that only “abled” bodies are supposed to be working there.
Since the staffing realignment, management has also adopted a new policy stating that it will not accommodate injured workers like they used to in the past. If there is no work available for them that meet their prescribed restrictions then the management will sent the workers home at 70% of their wages pending a review.
We spoke to the shift supervisor regarding the situation in the short and long section and he said that he could not agree with us more that in fact more staff was required in the section but he was told to manage that way on Tuesday July 9, by higher management. He says he does not have any say in the matter.
The workers are also very upset because they have filed a grievance against the May 12 shift bid and staffing realignment. They are not in agreement with the way the local executive committee is handling hearings on this matter of such importance to us.
They say the union is collaborating with the management to impose the corporatist arrangement that was made during the last staffing realignment and that the requested corrective action to their grievances and to the problems they face is not defended and the workers come under pressure to accept something they do not really want. Job insecurity is used to get the workers to accept the wrong and there is no redress of the situation. The corporate arrangement prevails and through human resources, the corporation pockets the money which is owed to the workers as compensation.
I am serving notice that on Monday, I will be preparing a grievance in order to force management to fill the 5 positions that have been assigned for the “PPD’s” in the short and long section of transaction mail and I will demand as corrective action that the management distribute the wages that should have been paid to the 5 workers to the workers that did all the work.
The division of the work place between “abled and disabled bodies” as was recently done through the union/management consultations on the staffing realignment along with the division of labour along the concept of hard labour is nothing less than a fascist corporatist arrangement.
The letter carriers when they leave the plant to go out on their routes in the morning looks just like beast of burden and no inside workers want to be a letter carrier. Canada Post has restructured more than 6,500 letter carrier routes in the year 2012 alone when it launched its “new delivery model” in 13 cities. The “new delivery model” reduced the number of trips several workers would make to serve a neighbourhood in any given day to a single motorized worker to perform several roles.
Cost savings from delivery modernisation amounted to $52 million in 2012. Workers who cannot finished their routes within an 8 hour shift face disciplinary measures and are constantly under pressures not to claim overtime which results in the workers having to work extra time for free.
Canada Post admits that there is a backlog of 50,000 grievances for the CUPW bargaining unit. More than 700 are dismissal cases. The letter carriers say they cannot raise their voices any other way than through grievances and the procedure is broken. There is no avenue for redress.
Note that the Harper dictatorship which took state power with merely 24.3 % of the eligible votes using millions of dollars, unlimited mass media support, voter suppression and a micro-targeting machine in specific ridings legislated an end to the last postal dispute and imposed final offer selection arbitration which forced the union to accept the lesser of two evils which resulted in the lowering of the starting wage for new workers by $6.00 and the elimination of sick leave benefits.
*To those who are new to the Sunday e-mail, Nader Yacoub is the Chief shop steward for our section and a member of the Ottawa local executive committee of the CUPW.