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)
Ruling doesn't change the fact that Edmonton city council did an end run around the democratic process, says AFL Sep 25, 2009
EDMONTON - The labour unions that launched a legal challenge aimed at reversing the secretive privatization of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of power generating assets owned by the citizens of Edmonton will meet next week to consider their options for appeal now that a lower court has ruled against them.
On September 11th, the Alberta Federation of Labour, along with two unions representing City of Edmonton employees (Civic Service Union Local 52 and Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 30) asked the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench to make a declaration on whether or not Edmonton City Council had followed the proper process when they decided behind closed doors to spin-off $3 billion worth of power generation assets owned by Epcor and sell about $500 million worth of those assets to private investors.
In a decision released this afternoon, the court ruled that, thanks to the "natural person powers" granted to the City under legislation, members of City Council didn't have to abide by sections of the Municipal Government Act which say all decisions made by municipal councils have to be made in public forums.
"We're deeply troubled by this decision," says AFL president Gil McGowan. "It seems to imply that there are no limits to the powers of City Council to delegate important civic functions and decisions to individuals and bodies that are not accountable to the public. It's a blank cheque for politicians who want to make unpopular decisions without any public input or scrutiny."
McGowan says that he and other union leaders involved in the court challenge will be meeting next week to consider all of their options - including whether or not to launch an appeal.
"Ruling or no ruling, the fact remains that major assets owned by the citizens of Edmonton were sold off in secret and without any public consultation," says McGowan. "The mayor and senior managers from EPCOR and Capital Power can now say that what was done is technically legal. But that doesn't make it morally or ethically right."
McGowan says he is disappointed that the lower court judge didn't directly address the union coalition's main argument that - in the spirit of promoting democracy - the City's power to delegate decision-making power needs to be interpreted narrowly.
"We frankly continue to believe that the arguments put forward by the City and Epcor are nothing more than flimsy excuses used to justify shutting the public out of this extremely important decision. The bottom line is that they did an end run around the democratic process - and in their heart-of-hearts they all know it."
McGowan says the union coalition remains committed to stopping similar kinds of "abuses of the democratic process" from happening again. That may mean an appeal of today's court decision, says McGowan, or it may mean making the privatization of Epcor a major issue in the next municipal election campaign.
"The citizen's of Edmonton deserve better from the people they elect to represent them. Citizens deserve transparency and they deserve to be consulted on decisions of this magnitude. We're going to everything we can to make sure voters know which members of Council let this travesty of democracy unfold. And we'll be encouraging voters to hold their elected officials properly accountable."
For more information call: Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 218-9888