A tentative agreement between the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Canada Post Corporation (CPC) will see ratification votes across the country take place next month, but some rural workers aren’t happy with what’s been tabled.
“What we were looking for was equality with the urbans. We’re doing exactly the same work, we really should be getting exactly the same amount of money, not five or six dollars an hour less,” said Charlene Penner, president of CUPW Sunshine Coast Local 840.
CUPW has been negotiating a new contract for rural workers since the beginning of the year. Penner said their mandate has always been to achieve equal pay for equal work.
“Unfortunately this was not achieved. If the tentative agreement is ratified, during voting to be held in November, gone will be any hope of equality for rural workers for another four years,” Penner said.
The tentative four-year agreement offers some pay increases for rural workers — a 2.5 per cent raise as of Jan. 1, 2012 and another increase of two to 2.5 per cent in 2014 and 2015, depending on what zone carriers fall under.
The tentative contract splits rural mail delivery into three zones with different levels of pay.
Zone one covers Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Thunder Bay and some parts of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This zone will see rural workers make a base wage of $18.50 an hour.
Zone two covers southwestern Ontario, British Columbia, some of Alberta and shared depots surrounding mechanized plants. The Sunshine Coast falls within this zone, which will see mail carriers make a base of $20.35 an hour.
Zone three covers Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Zone three pays a base of $21.28 an hour.
The wage increases are still far from what urban workers are making, but it was all CPC would offer in light of record losses.
“In 2011, the corporation lost money for the first time in 16 years and the amount of letter mail in the system dropped by 179 million pieces. This year has started much tougher,” said Jacques Cote, group president of the physical delivery network for CPC, in a press release. “In the first five months of 2012, letter mail volumes dropped by 142 million pieces compared to last year.”
That reality is creating a cash flow crisis for the corporation, which also has a pension solvency deficit of $4.7 billion to take care of.
“This new offer maintains the same principle as previous offers, but reflects our new reality,” Cote noted.
Many rural carriers feel short-changed by the tentative deal and Penner isn’t sure it will pass ratification votes set to take place across the country next month.
She hopes Coasters will write to MP John Weston to encourage CPC to come up with a more equitable contract.
“The government is the main shareholder in Canada Post so basically they’re still allowing Canada Post to pay one group of workers far less than another group of workers doing the same type of work,” Penner said. “That is discrimination.”