THE SUNDAY E-MAIL
Ottawa Postal Workers’ News Bulletin
February 9, 2014
A year ago, on February 4th, 2013 a very important initiative was taken by the workers on day shift in the short and long section of Transaction mail at the Ottawa Mail Processing Plant (OMPP). This initiative consisted of writing a report every week to the newly elected Chief shop steward and member of the Ottawa local executive committee informing him of the problems we were encountering in the course of work at the post office.
The new Chief shop steward was Nader Yacoub, a postal worker with 22 years of service assigned to work on the docks. After his election, filled with a militant spirit and confident in his own capacity to make a difference in the lives of the workers at the place of work, he came to see us and patiently asked us what the problems were and how he could assist us in finding solutions to them. He expressed to us his most sincere desire to be a factor for the progress of our struggle for our rights and his willingness to serve our collective interest for a better society.
Even though I had not voted in this election, I was immediately taken by him and welcomed his attitude like a breath of fresh air after a long period of staleness. Not too many union representatives were taking the time then to come and visit with the workers on the shop floor and to simply discuss with them on the basis of their own preoccupations. I thought to myself, finally, there is someone who wants to put at the heart of his work, the task of addressing the concerns of the workers.
Very good, I concluded, and extended to him my very best wishes for success in his new role as Chief shop steward while also making a commitment to him that I would write an e-mail every Sunday informing him of the problems we were having in the section and the issues of concern to us.
The first Sunday e-mail was written on February 4th, 2013 and was entitled News from Communications Short and Long. It summed up the conditions of work facing the workers on the shift and reported the ongoing concerns of the workers. At the same time, this first Sunday e-mail and those who immediately came afterward paid close attention to the urgent need to develop what I called a living link between the workers on the shift and the local executive committee. In order to develop and strengthen this link, copies of the Sunday e-mail were either forwarded or distributed to all the workers on the shift enabling them to take part in the discussion and to voice their own opinions on the matters being raised.
Starting from this, regular weekly reports were written and sent to Nader via e-mail. The ground work for discussion among the workers began in earnest. Summations and analysis of the conditions of work in the section and at the OMPP in general were made. News reports regarding the struggle of postal workers throughout the country for their rights also began to appear.
The workers truly liked this initiative and greatly appreciated receiving the Sunday e-mail hailing it as the only source of information they had regarding what was going on at the plant and generally at Canada Post. They welcomed its honest journalistic style and quality. Every Monday morning, the workers would ask for the news bulletin and referred to it as The Sunday e-mail.
From the conscious act of writing which compels another conscious act—the act of finding out, the weekly Sunday e-mail correspondence to Nader developed into a serious weekly bulletin, both in form and in content, which is now being disseminated to postal workers throughout the plant and also posted online.
With assiduous work, it has become an instrument for the organising of postal workers at the OMPP in defence of their own rights and the rights of all. It has also become a forum for postal workers to make an assessment of the role we play in the overall Canadian economy and to enable us to see the correctness of our claims upon the added-value we produce in the course of carrying out productive work in mail processing operations and service delivery activities.
As a result, The Sunday e-mail is now a strong voice against wage and contract concessions which are being demanded from the workers by monopoly right not only at the post office but in every sector of the economy so as to serve the neo-liberal austerity agenda and deprive, in this way, the workers of their most basic human, political, economic, social and democratic rights. The Sunday e-mail has also shown that it has the ability to act as a strong voice in defence of the workers’ Defined Contribution Pension Plans and pensions for all Canadians.
At the beginning of the New Year, the weekly report took on the name given to it by the workers—The Sunday e-mail and adopted a new look for itself. It is now shorter, sharper and easier to read.
During this year, The Sunday e-mail will continue researching the truth and reporting it to everyone. It will be a staunch defender of the rights of the workers and those of the unions which have come under severe attack by the Harper conservative government. It will strive to contribute towards building the Workers’ Opposition against the wrecking ball of monopoly right and it will ardently defend the public post office and the socialised economy. It will contribute to give rise to a new public authority capable of ending the dominance of the monopoly corporations over the affairs of the society and their trampling underfoot of public right and the general interest of the society. Let us all join in the work to build the Workers’ Opposition!
Our future lies in the fight for the rights of all! An injury to one is an injury to all!
In Solidarity and a special salute to Nader Yacoub,