War of words escalates between Canada Post and CUPW - Macleans.ca

War of words escalates between Canada Post and CUPW

Crown corporation claims strikes have cost it $65 million


The rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have cost Canada Post about $65 million in revenue so far, according to a spokesman for the Crown corporation. Jon Hamilton warned union members on Monday that their job action may be accelerating the decline of Canada Post by pushing prospective and existing customers to look elsewhere for mail service. Earlier Monday morning, union president Denis Lemelin accused Canada Post of trying to provoke a general strike by cutting back mail service to three days a week, which Lemelin described as a “partial lock-out.” Lemelin also disputed Hamilton’s claims about the impact of the strike, saying the work stoppages don’t affect more than 30 per cent of the country on any given day.

Canadian Press

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War of words escalates between Canada Post and CUPW

  1. Why did Canada Post pay $100 million in bonuses in April and over $300 million since 2007 if they’re having financial difficulties?  Also why haven’t they released their 2010 financial report yet?  Is it because it shows hundreds of millions in profits for the 17th consecutive year?  Time for Canada Post to come clean and release their 2010 financial report.

    • What does the amount of money paid in bonuses have to do with wage negotiations? Also, what does the profitability of the company have to do with wage negotiations?

      Basically, a job’s worth should be decided by supply and demand. If they offer X amount, and you don’t like, you can leave. If someone else will do it for X amount, both of the parties are happy. If no one wants to do it for X amount, the company would have to raise the amount until someone were willing to do it. How much a company makes has nothing to do with this equation.

      Comments like yours reveal your belief that workers are ‘owed’ some of the profits, or they are ‘partners’ in the company. They are not. They are hourly earners who are paid for their work. They take no risk in the running of the company, and therefor deserve nothing of the reward.

      • Canada Post has made the statement that they need concessions on work rules, on paid sick days, and a a split wage agreement, due to financial pressures and the state of the pension funds.  So, its a fair thing to ask how the same company could have rewarded large bonuses just a couple of months back.  

        And as to the overall place for workers it he company, at least back when I worked for it under the leadership of Mr. George Clermont, he always used the term “colleagues” to reinforce the idea that workers were in essence partners too.    Did you come out of the dark ages of labour relations?  

        Supply and demand economics do not generally apply to collective agreement situations.  If you study labour history, that old supply-demand argument always seemed to work against the worker.  In the midst of the great depression, auto companies were bargained to provide substantial raises, at a time when by supply-demand economics, they would not have had to.      

        • I would imagine that the concessions and the pension fund liability are all a result of past mistakes (on the side of the union, and management at the time). The bonuses that are paid today are paid on how well the company is manged today. It wouldn’t be fair for management to not get bonuses they are entitled to, because of bad decisions made many years ago, while they weren’t there. The two are not connected, especially when the massive liability of the pension is probably the biggest issue. 

          When you worked for it, you were probably working and voting as these decisions that are affecting the company now are wrecking havoc. Maybe you all were comrades, not colleagues. (Kind of joking here).

          I don’t know what you mean by ‘supply-demand argument’. This isn’t theory, this is now the market works. There are many ways to manipulate it, but this is the bottom line. Yes, it will work against the worker being over paid, and generally doesn’t fit well with a collective agreement. That is one of the ways to manipulate it. It is the only way, though, to find out what the market would pay, which is the fairest way of all. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why you would oppose it, but that doesn’t mean that it is in some way wrong.

      • You claim that hourly earners are paid for their work and take no risk in
        the running of the company. This is equally true of every supervisor,
        manager, IT person, director, etc. even up to the CEO, they are all paid for
        their work. The only risk they might possibly take is if they are outright
        owners or shareholders and thereby have their own money on the line. Most
        people who receive bonuses do not fall into this group yet they claim the
        bonus nevertheless, presumably for adding value to the shareholders. In the
        case of Canada Post is it ultimately owned by the taxpayers of Canada, which
        means that all 70,000+ “employees” are actually part owners, including the
        48,000 members of CUPW.

        As for what bonuses have to do with wage negotiations perhaps you’re not
        aware that the $100 million paid out in April went to every employee of
        Canada Post from the CEO down to the letter carrier delivering your mail.
        You also may not be aware that CUPW was and is opposed to the bonuses for
        its members preferring that those funds be put into improving/expanding
        revenue generating services that would make Canada Post more financially
        viable in the long term. So when management claims they are experiencing a
        financial hardship one wonders how they can justify paying themselves
        bonuses instead of using those funds to help grow the business or pay down

        I pay taxes in Canada and thereby, along with you am a owner of Canada Post.
        I find it troubling that after 17 years of increasing profit (since bonuses
        were paid in April, they undoubtedly made a profit in 2010) Canada Post
        chose to use those excess funds to pay dividends and bonuses when the money
        might better have been used to pay off debt or invest in the business and
        the health & safety of its employees.

        • It is not true of every supervisor, manager, director, etc. even up to the CEO (don’t know why you put IT in there).They usually have metrics that they are measured against, and if they fail to hit them, they can face disciplinary action, up to and including termination. If they are unlucky enough (as if having people report to them wasn’t bad enough) they might have a budget that they are responsible for. There is a lot of responsibility associated with that, and it grows as the budget grows. Basically, their job is directly tied to how well their chunk of the organization performs. And yes, they get bonuses if they do their job well. If they don’t ‘add value to the shareholders’ – they are gone. Pretty simple.

          While the CUPW workers are ‘owners’ just all taxpayers, they are in a conflict of interest in this scenario, and they will do what is best for them personally, not what is best for the company, if the two are different.

          I wasn’t aware that the bonus was paid to all employees (why was it), but I can easily guess why management never followed the route that CUPW suggested. Most management see the bonus as part of their remuneration (rightly so, as it was promised to them for hitting their targets). Just like you see your wage and benefits as something promised to you. If they didn’t get it, they could walk, just like you can walk if they change your pay structure. I would imagine that they didn’t want all of their management to leave en mass. I would also imagine that the bonus that was paid out to the CUPW worker, per person, wasn’t all that big, and wouldn’t be missed. Basically, what the CUPW union was proposing was to take all the bonus money (lots per individual manager, but little per individual CUPW worker) and ‘invest’ in in other projects. Obviously, that was never intended to be followed, but to give the CUPW worker something to talk about ie. greedy managers.

          As far as dividends and manager bonuses, again, the people of today shouldn’t be paying for the mistakes of yesterday. If the pension fund is in trouble, that is an issue that must be addressed by the people on pension now (as they probably voted for the system in the first place) and the workers of today. To say that it should be taken from the managers of today, or the shareholders of today is grossly unfair.

          • Perhaps I wasn’t clear in my previous reply but the $100 million paid in April, $300 million over the last 4 years was based on company wide performance, it is called the CTI (Corporate Team Incentive) and was given to everyone, including IT, based on a percentage of their annual wage. Individual supervisors, managers etc. also received performance bonuses for
            reducing absenteeism, reducing staff, reporting fewer injuries etc., in their area of jurisdiction, in addition to their portion of the $100 million CTI.

            You are right that the people of today shouldn’t be paying for the mistakes of the past; except it’s the same people running the show today who made the mistakes and are still receiving performance and CTI bonuses. See this article for a more detailed explanation of the current financial crisis at
            Canada Post http://canadasmodernpost.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/more-on-the-history-of-canadas-postal-transformation/

            You say its “grossly unfair” to penalize the managers of today but you appear to have no problem penalizing CUPW members who have a greater interest in seeing the company do well than many managers who seem mostly concerned with their bonuses.

          • Thanks for the post. It was great.

            It doesn’t, however, prove anything other than the markets took a big chunk of the CUPW’s pension, and swallowed it whole. That raises a whole other bunch of questions, and all of them are not good for the workers. (ie. if they had stuck to GIC/money market stuff, it would have needed far more money to ‘fund’ it. I could go on).

            If there was a 1.4 billion deficit in 2005 when she started, the problem was there before. The can was just being kicked down the road. The market crash basically meant that the can could not be kicked any further. I would also submit that, like the CCP, there are more and more people withdrawing every year. It is unsustainable.

            I have stated that the benefits and pay have always been too high. That means that there was less discretionary money left at the end of the day. Had their been more money to play with, management could have made different choices, and you folks might not be where you are. Either way, the pension plan is grossly underfunded, and please tell me who you feel should pay that. The taxpayer?

            I have never seen any evidence that CUPW members have a greater interest in seeing the company do well than many managers who seem mostly concerned with their bonuses. In order to get their bonuses, the managers must hit their targets. Hitting their targets means the company does well. The only way an hourly employee can ‘add value’ to their company would be to work for free, or to volunteer to forgo benefits. Other than that, they are handsomely paid for everything they do.

  2. This Lemelin guy is a meathead. “work stoppages don’t affect more than 30 per cent of the country on any given day.”

    That won’t affect the company at all. That won’t have people and business looking for alternative methods of delivery. (Please insert the sarcasm.)

    • And Canada Post cutting delivery to 3 days a week wont have an affect on the company with people and businesses looking for other methods???

      • Again, I am not following this story very closely. Please provide a link to a site that documents CP plan to do that.

          • Thanks for the link – most people don’t provide them.

            As far as it being ‘Pro Union”, I would submit that this will hurt the union, more than CP. The union will take all the blame.

            Your original comment led me to believe that CP had mandated this 3 day work week to be permanent. The site claims that it is to cut costs, due to reduced revenue. If it isn’t permanent, CP won’t take the blame.

            As far as hurting the company, yes, it will, but again, the blame falls squarely on the union. If there was no strike, this would not happen.

            They are a crown corporation, so you can assume that Canadians would not be thrilled if the strike ended up costing the taxpayer.

          • The union agreed to end the rotating strikes at the discretion of Lisa Raitt as long as the old collective agreement was re-instated for its members while the still negotiated a new agreement.Canada Post was the one that stated it would notaccept that, they also disallowed a NDP MP from entering the Leo Blanchette http://liveword.ca/politics/2011/06/09/1387/  ,what do they have to hide…our mail volumes in our office today resembled more of a Christmas time rush than a strike

          • I can find nothing linking Lisa Raitt to the union offer to stop the strikes. As far as reinstating the old collective agreement until a new one was reached, I would imagine that CP could not accept that. I don’t know all the ins and out of labor law, but I would expect that would tie their hands quite a lot. The union would then be able to drag out the negotiations as long as they could. As well, I don’t know what it would say to the companies claim that they don’t have the funds.

            As far as the NDP fellow and the visit, after reading his comments, I can see why he wasn’t allowed in. I would expect that he would us any info he garnered there against the company. Do you think the union would open up it’s books to an MP they knew would use the info against them? Granted, it is a crown corporation, but if they don’t have to let the person in, I can’t see that under the circumstances, that they would be so inclined.

            Lets face it, this is a conflict, and both sides want to win.

      • But after thinking about it, I don’t think it would hurt their business, if it was applied to residential customers. If I only got mail on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I wouldn’t be bothered at all.
        Business on the other hand might, although I would expect that they are already couriering all of the urgent stuff right now.

  3. In my plant today we have over 2.5 days of mail waiting to go out on Wednesday and that was at Tuesday at 11:30 Am.  This will mean delays in service, heavier bags and forced overtime. 

    The delay in service will be because there is so much extra mail,  heavier bags will mean carriers having to either carrier much more than they are permitted to and or going back to relay boxes multiple times.  This will take a lot of extra time……  so there will be overtime for that as well….  Forced overtime to get everything done on a 3 day work week…..

    Oh yeah.  Canada post is not paying any overtime at all no matter what.  So then people like myself will be working for free to make sure all of our customers get all of there mail.

    Yes I am a greedy CUPW employee….  I will work for free again this week just like I did last week.      
    And to Modster99. 

    The pension shortfall and the problems of debt were all created by our management teams who all get much greater salarie and bonus  increases than we do every year.  Interesting how Canada Post continues to reward people that make bad decisions and then punishes those of us who are actually working for the benefit of our customers…..

    Guess I have a lot to think about tomorrow when I am working for FREE!!!!  For those of you that dont understand….   That’s working without pay.  Just like on the 20th when I will go out on my own time to deliver peoples checks.

    “They take no risk in the running of the company, and therefor deserve nothing of the reward. ”

    LOL thats funny

    I would also  like to comment on the complete and utter failure of Maclean’s magazine to report this situation ethically.  At no time has Maclean’s fact checked any of the claims or statistics that Canada Post has offered up as fact. They have taken everything Canada Post had said as Dictation. At no time at all have they actually reported the situation. Reporting means WORKING and getting all the info… and then coming to a conclusion. Maybe Macleans should just post Canada Posts News Releases. That would be even easier……… (Or are they already) I used to subscribe to this magazine for what I thought was a level of unbiased reporting. 

    I used to!