Union Rips Canada Post on Secrecy

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers began a campaign yesterday called “Operation Transparency” and issued an ultimatum to Canada Post to release details of plans to restructure its processing network.

Union president Deborah Bourque asked Moya Greene, Canada Post's president/CEO, to disclose the company's plans by May 15 or face actions that could include non-violent civil disobedience. But the Ottawa-based union said the public awareness campaign would cause no job disruptions.

“Canada Post is owned by the public, for the benefit of all of us,” Bourque said. “As rightful owners, postal workers and the public have a right to know what Canada Post is planning and to have our say.”

The union said the campaign was developed after Canada Post announced last summer that it would close its mail sorting plant in Quebec City and review its entire network of post offices and plants. Announcement of the closure, to occur by the end of 2007, came with little notice or consultation with the public or postal workers.

More than 800 municipalities, 130,000 petitioners, thousands of postal workers and many Parliament members expressed concern about plans to dismantle other post offices and plants.

In February, arbitrator Guy Dulude ordered the “suspension and postponement” of any further action toward the closure of the plant in Quebec City. The arbitration was in response to a grievance filed by the CUPW. Dulude ruled that Canada Post violated postal workers' collective agreement by not releasing adequate information or consulting with the union about the Quebec City closure.

Canada Post said that though the issues raised in the ruling required minor adjustments in terms of timing for the multi-phase project, this would not delay the final completion date. Canada Post also agreed to provide an updated notice of change to the union and respect the 120-day notice as per the collective agreement.

Canada Post said it is adjusting its processing network to market needs while causing no regular employees to lose their job. The company will maintain a large presence in the province of Quebec as it continues to provide 1,100 jobs in its many facilities, with economic benefits around $90 million.

Canada Post also said it has been transparent with the union regarding information surrounding its plans.

“We've been meeting [with the CUPW] on a monthly basis for the past 2 1/2 years about our plans as per the collective agreement,” Canada Post spokesman Francois LeGault said, noting that Greene specifically has been meeting with the union recently.

But the CUPW said that the company has not been forthcoming.

“Was Quebec City the tip of the iceberg?” Bourque asked. “We have repeatedly requested information about Canada Post's plans, to no avail. Even the most basic information is kept secret, like plans for post offices and plants. Our public postal network plays such a key role in the social and economic life of this vast country. Plans for the future of our postal service need to be debated now, before it is too late.”

She added: “We don't want to do this. But if Canada Post still refuses to hand over the documents after two months, we won't have much choice but to search for the documents ourselves.”

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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