by Doug Nesbitt and Dan Darrah
With another lockout or strike looming at Canada Post, management is once again relying on huge amounts of public misinformation to turn the people against the postal workers, and sap confidence in our public postal service. Here are seven big myths about Canada Post that you’ll find repeated in the papers and on TV, at the dinner table or on your smoke break, and from politicians and Canada Post management. A version of this list is available as a printable flyer or poster.
MYTH #1: “We aren’t profitable”
FACT: Canada Post has been profitable for 20 of the last 22 years, including the past four years. It was not profitable in 2011 because management locked out its workforce and lost a lot of business. Since the mid-1990s, Canada Post has put over a billion dollars in profits back into the public purse.
MYTH #2: “Canada Post is a waste of taxpayers’ money”
FACT: Canada Post doesn’t run on any taxpayer money. It has actually put more than a billion dollars back. Canada Post became a Crown Corporation in the early 1980s so it could survive off its own revenues. Anyone who says Canada Post wastes taxpayers money is misinformed or lying.
MYTH #3: “The internet is killing Canada Post”
FACT: Canada Post is shipping more items each year than it was in 1989, five years before the internet took off. Letters are declining steadily but internet shopping has led to a boom in parcel deliveries. Canada Post is constantly setting new records in parcel delivery volumes. Canada Post is riding the internet shipping boom just like Amazon and other internet shipping companies.
MYTH #4: “We can’t afford pensions”
FACT: Canada Post wants to weaken pensions for new hires, saying the old pension plan is too costly. But the pension crisis is a phony one. Canada Post is profitable and postal workers continue to pay into the plan. The pension plan has enough money to pay out workers as they retire. Rolling back the pension plan is a management cash grab.
MYTH #5: “We can’t afford home delivery”
FACT: Canada Post can afford to restore and expand home delivery. We don’t have to be the only wealthy country in the world that is cutting this service. Restoring and expanding home delivery would be even easier with new revenue-generating services like postal banking, which exists in many other countries, including Canada until the mid-1960s. Canada Post’s own studies show postal banking is a financial no-brainer, but they don’t want postal banking or home delivery because they have another agenda. This agenda has nothing to do with providing essential public services.
MYTH #6: “We won’t privatize Canada Post”
FACT: Cutting home delivery, rejecting postal banking, and pushing rollbacks on postal workers is about making Canada Post ready for privatization. Canada Post delivers two-thirds of the country’s mail, and has by far the largest retail infrastructure in the entire country. Private mail and shipping companies want these assets, and they want to get rid of Canada Post as a competitor. Canada Post top management is full of privatizers. Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra sits on the board of a think-tank that called on the Harper government to privatize our postal service. Chopra was also a major executive for the world’s largest private mail corporation, Pitney Bowes. The previous Canada Post CEO became British Royal Mail’s CEO and oversaw its wholesale privatization. Canada Post management, the private sector, and politicians across party lines want to privatize Canada Post.
MYTH #7: “We don’t want a labour dispute”
FACT: Canada Post wants a labour dispute and disrupted service so it can undermine our confidence in our public postal service, blame the dispute on the postal workers in some old fashioned union-bashing, and further prepare it for privatization. The new Liberal government is also putting together a review of Canada Post. Management definitely wants a labour dispute and a phony pension crisis to dominate the agenda, not the restoration of home delivery and new services like postal banking. Look out for corporate think-tanks, newspaper columnists and politicians repeating all these myths. The goal is to undermine a public service so the public won’t protest its privatization. This is a classic privatization strategy.
What do we want?
A publicly-owned, financially-stable Canada Post is possible. We can afford decent jobs for all postal workers and home delivery for all. The internet has led to a boom in parcel deliveries. We could also have postal banking like other countries, giving us more options than just the big banks and predatory payday loans, and offer better banking services to rural and remote Canadians. Postal banking would ensure Canada Post’s financial stability well into the future. The postal workers are not the problem.
The service-cutting privatizers running Canada Post are the problem.
Tell your MP that you want a better public postal service, not one that cuts services and pushes for labour disruption.
Send a message of support to our postal workers. Put a sign on your mailbox, tell a postal worker you support them, and if it comes to it, get down to the picket lines.