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Canada - Posties cut off from benefits - union

02 Nov 2018, 14:38 ... fits-union

A Canada Post letter carrier walks along Main Street delivering parcels and letters to downtown merchants. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 576, representing North Bay workers, is dealing with complaints from letter carriers who have reported being cut off from short-term disability and other claims not being processed due to rotating strikes. Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles, The Nugget

An undisclosed number of Canada Post workers who are collecting short-term disability payments have been cut off, according to North Bay’s union president.

Keith Bradford, president of Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 576, said he’s heard the frustration from members who are on short-term disability and those who are in the process of going on short-term disability.

“Some have been cut off,” he said. “We also have members trying to go on short-term disability and they’re being told any claims during the rotating strikes will not be honoured.”

Bradford said unionized workers have also been notified that their life insurance benefits have been cancelled. He said employees are not accumulating pension benefits.

“The rumours are flying fast and furious,” he said. “There’s no threat of being locked out as of yet by the employer, but who knows what’s going to happen.”

Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said once rotating strikes began Oct. 22, Canada Post sent a letter to all Canadian Union of Postal Workers-represented employees that informed them that, while their contracts had expired, the corporation did not want to cause them any undue hardship.

“We continue to provide them and their eligible dependants with important benefits, like dental care and prescription drugs. We also continue to provide long-term disability payments and their rate of pay remains the same,” he said.

“As everyone’s situation is unique, we also encouraged employees facing extenuating circumstances to contact us so that we can quickly review their situation and offer relief on a compassionate basis. While the number of calls have been low, we have quickly reviewed and approved all that are compassionate circumstances.”

Hamilton said Canada Post never loses sight that they are making decisions that affect real people and their families, and that their approach is to not cause any undue hardship to them.

“Our approach goes above and beyond the requirements in the Canada Labour Code,” he said.

“Talks continue with the help of a special mediator. We continue to have a significant offer on the table that includes increased wages, job security, improved benefits, without asking our employees for any concessions. We have also addressed many of the concerns raised by the union and offered to work together constructively to find solutions.”

Canada Post’s rotating strikes haven’t hit North Bay at this time and it’s unknown when it will be their turn.

“We haven’t stopped negotiating. Canada Post is stalling and dragging their feet. We were hoping these rotating strikes would encourage the corporation to come to the table,” Bradford said.

Bradford said health and safety issues and wages are the sticking points.

He said the corporation is offering a 1.5 per cent wage increase, however the rate of inflation is two per cent. Canada Post employees are asking for 3.5 per cent.

“The big issue during these negotiations is working conditions. They’ve piled on the work with the parcels we’re carrying, so we’re trying to fix that.”

Bradford said there’s reported back and shoulder injuries from postal workers, as well as issues with their feet.

“There’s repetitive stress injuries and our doctors are having to fight with the corporation and insurance company to justify disabilities. A lot of our members are simply not being respected,” he said.

“Most members are feeling the effects; our rate of injury far surpasses other workers.”

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