A postal worker warns of Canada Post privatization

Communication Workers Union in Britain rallies against Royal Mail privatization
Communication Workers Union in Britain rallies against Royal Mail privatization

The privatization of Canada Post has long been discussed but times are changing.

Across the Atlantic, Britain’s coalition government of Tories and Liberal Democrats is privatizing the Royal Mail. Privatization is being rammed through ahead of potential strike action by postal workers, while defenders of the public service are warning that privatization will see a significant loss of service. Reports also say the government is selling the public service on the cheap. Neither party in the coalition government said anything about Royal Mail privatization in their 2010 election campaigns and platforms.

Rally against Berkeley, California's post office closure
Rally against Berkeley, California’s post office closure

South of the border, the United States Postal Service has been involved in what labour critics call “a drumbeat of media myth-making” backed by corporate America to engineer a crisis with privatization as the solution. Fortunately, workers and the public have fought this agenda of service cuts and post office closures. Just this past summer, workers and the public launched a brave defense of the Berkeley, California post office slated for closure.

Postal workers marching in Toronto, October 27 2011.
Postal workers marching in Toronto, October 27 2011.

Jeff Carroll, president of Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 630 in Windsor, wrote the following in the Windsor Star, outlining many of the same issues in Britain and the United States. Earlier this year, Windsor area postal workers and their supporters protested the shuttering of the historic Sandwich post office (which was left in shambles) and a wave of service reductions and job losses.

Dear Canadians,

I am writing in regards to all the media attention being garnered by Canada Post these days.

Their spokesperson(s) are painting a picture of a publicly owned corporation in dire straits. I personally believe that this is greatly exaggerated.

Canada Post has had a work measurement system in place for years that automatically adjusts employment numbers to meet economic times.

The number of employees has been reduced by 20-25 per cent in the last five years but yet, I fail to read this in any public statements made by their spokespersons.

I might add, they continue to close corporate offices and move processing operations, including Windsor, to decentralize the processing which has greatly reduced labour costs.

The decentralization has also greatly reduced customer service. In our city, for example, the machinery and mail were moved to London to save money and the public was told the service would remain the same, a lie.

The only money saved was one highway truck being cancelled and the local service went from one day in city turnaround on average, to something I don’t even want to mention.

Why? Well, in my opinion, to turn public opinion so eventually Canada Post can be privatized.

They are now trying to convince the public that community mail boxes and alternate day delivery are the answer to all the problems they have created through this manufactured crisis. Before they decided to lock out their employees in 2011, Canada Post had made in excess of $1 billion that was returned to the public coffers.

The truth be told, I agree first class volumes are down across Canada but not to the extent Canada Post would have you believe. Instead of having an employer who keeps preaching all doom and gloom, I want an employer committed to growing the business in the area of parcels, for example.

They advertise parcels being the future business but a year ago, they cut parcel delivery drivers in Windsor not for lack of parcels. In fact they let parcels for Windsor sit in Toronto sometimes for five days.

I say, get them down here. We have the people to deliver them. Let us deliver them. Canada Post, back up what you say.
How we have reached the point in this charade that the Harper government has convinced the public that Canada Post is a burden on the public defies common sense. Has this government not created enough damage to the economy through their ill thought out trade agreements?

It’s time for Canadians to pay attention to what’s going on before you get fleeced out of yet another public service.

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