Postal workers walk out over outsourcing

Fort McMurray local faces job losses due to government mismanagement

Edmonton – More than 50 postal workers in Fort McMurray walked off the job this morning to protest contracting out delivery of parcels.

Representatives of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 736, which represents more than 100 workers, say the striking workers are trying to bring attention to how the government has undermined services at the post office. The strike was precipitated by an announcement that parcels would be delivered by outside contractors, a decision that could lead to nine workers losing their jobs.

"This isn't a cost-cutting measure. It's a failure by the local management to retain quality staff," Local 736 president Dana Gabriel said. "The public needs to know what Canada Post is doing to services. We feel bad for the public – they aren't getting the service they should."

The post office in Fort McMurray has seen higher turnover because of a botched route restructuring that has many employees working 10-hour days. A starting wage of $19 has made it difficult to retain new staff in the high-wage, boom economy of Fort McMurray. Additionally, because they're employed by a federal organization, workers for the post office do not get the Northern Allowance that other Fort McMurray residents receive.

"It's never an easy decision to walk out. This is something our membership takes very seriously," Gabriel said, noting that his membership had previously engaged in a two-day wildcat strike in 2007. "People on the picket line are worried – we've already been threatened with five-day suspensions, management was out here reading workers the riot act. It's their fault, but they're making it our problem."

According to the Alberta Federation of Labour, the decision to outsource parcel delivery is symptomatic of a government that puts ideology before practicality.

"Contracting out parcel delivery doesn't make sense," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "It's going to cost the Post Office more, service is going to deteriorate, diligent and responsible postal workers are going to lose their jobs, and it won't solve any of the problems with delivery. This is just bad all around."



For more information please contact CUPW Local 736 President Dana Gabriel at 780-713-8969

Or Alberta Federation of Labour Communications Director Olav Rokne at 780-289-6528 (cell)

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