(November 23, 2018)  When there is a labour disruption at the Post Office it brings home the fact this is an important service.  Business and some of the media usually blame the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for being irresponsible with the implication postal workers’ concerns are frivolous.  CUPW started a rotating strike trying to get Canada Post’s management to address their health and safety concerns.

We have not seen much disruption of the postal service here in my neck of the woods.  I sent my grain samples away to the Canadian Grain Commission’s Harvest Sample Program after the strike started.  So it was a happy surprise yesterday morning to open my email and receive my sample results from the federal employees at the Canadian Grain Commission, who also provide an important service to Canadian grain farmers.  All of the grain samples from my harvest made it through the postal system just fine in spite of all the wailing about postal service disruptions.  Incidentally because of the late fall and wet harvest, the CGC has extended the deadline for this very useful program to November 30 and have added some useful extras to the results.  Click here to get into the Harvest Sample Program.

As a rural Albertan, I have a soft spot for postal workers and the Post Office in general, even when there are more bills than good news in the mail.  We order our chicken and Christmas Turkey direct from a hatchery so the chicks come in a vented cardboard box via Canada Post, usually in the middle of a cold March day.  Now the catch is our rural Alberta Post Office is served by a mail truck that arrives at about 3 AM from the sorting plant.  Normally the mail is deposited into a large lock box next to the building.

Baby chicks and turkeys by Post

A local store owner operates our rural Postal outlet.  Somebody lets her know those delicate chicks are on their way.  So at 3 AM our local Post Mistress walks down to her store to retrieve the chicks and move them into the warm building.  She tells me the driver of the Postal Van always wraps the box in their own winter coat to keep the chicks warm and waits until she shows up.  You can’t buy service or dedication like that.  

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has stated their members now have a higher rate of injury than any other employees in the federal sector.  I’m told injuries started to increase after the much reviled community mail boxes were introduced in 2015 along with much longer routes.  At that time the principle of equal pay for work of equal value was discarded for newly hired people and rural carriers creating a two-tier pay system.  After a day of shoveling grain I can empathize with their concerns about workplace injuries in the face of a massive increase in parcel post deliveries.

And I also know that we all have a collective obligation to treat the people who provide services with respect and consideration whether they are a minimum wage food server or a postal worker.  Since the numbers show postal worker injury rates are through the roof it is no surprise one of the Union’s concerns is work place safety.  Regrettably the Federal Government has chosen to dismiss their concerns by tabling back to work legislation just as the Harper Government did.

Compared to the several books that came in yesterday’s mail or even the bunch of grain samples we sent off to the Canadian Grain Commission, our annual box of chicks does not weight much.  However, with the rise in e-commerce, I cannot imagine what it must be like for Postal Workers facing a mountain of packages ordered on-line.  But, it is not the workers’ job to anticipate the demands on the service.  That responsibility lies with management and it does not look like they are coping well.  Forcing the workers back to work is just kicking the problems down the line.  Injuring and disabling workers is no way to make sure we continue having the excellent service I’m used to from my rural post office.

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