Denis Lemelin: CUPW To Organize Canadians To Fight Cutback Of Postal Service

Denis Lemelin’s Speaking Notes for the Standing Committee on Transport: December 18, 2013

Thank you for the opportunity to be here and present the views of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers

We represent all of the thousands of letter carriers who deliver mail every weekday to the doorstep of the millions of people whose service this government wants to cut.

And I want to begin my remarks by stating:

  • that we totally oppose the elimination of door to door delivery
  • and that we plan to organize the population to fight this unnecessary cutback of an important service.

During the upcoming months:

  • We intend to work with the owners of Canada Post Corporation to convince you to overturn this decision.
  • We are going to work with the millions of citizens who receive door to door delivery
  • We are going to work with community organizations
  • We are going to work with our allies in the labour movement
  • We are going to with seniors and disable people and the organizations that represent them
  • We are going to work with small businesses and home based businesses.
  • We are going to work with everyone who cares about their postal service to convince you to overturn this very bad decision.

We think that this is not only a bad decision but also that the decision making process was terribly flawed:

  • We have to ask why this decision was announced in such a rush just prior to Christmas 2013?
  • Why not wait until the review of the postal Charter which is scheduled for 2014?
  • If that is too long then why did we not have a review in 2013? 
  • Also why not wait until the financial results from 2013 were known?
  • Why was there such a rush?
  • Was it because the government is worried that the financial situation of CPC will improve and there will be no justification to make such an announcement?

We are also concerned about the manner in which the government and the top management tried to justify these cutbacks.

Repeatedly we have been told that two-thirds of the population already have mail delivered by community mailboxes so what is the problem? The problem is that this statement is not true.

Just look at the information from the 2012 Annual report of Canada Post Corporation.

Altogether there are 15.3 million addresses served by CPC:

  • 25% of these residents live in apartment buildings where the mail is delivered inside the door. They do not have to go outside and walk or drive to a community mailbox.
  • 33% receive door to door delivery
  • 5% receive delivery to a rural mailbox located at the end of their driveway.
  • 12% have general delivery where they pick up their mail in a post office facility
  • And 25%, yes only 25% currently receive their mail at a community mailbox, group mailbox or kiosk.

And let us be clear. All of these people knew they would receive this form of delivery when they decided to live at their current address.

If the government’s plan goes through the number of people that have to walk of drive to get their mail will increase by 132%

This government is trying to change the rules for more than one-third of the population. Without consultation. Without agreement. And all of these people are the owners of Canada Post Corporation.

This is no way to treat people, especially the many people who will have difficulty or even find it impossible to walk to their CMB to pick their mail.

We also heard many other excuses to justify cutbacks.

We heard lots of statements from Canada Post management and the government about the solvency deficit of the CPC Pension Plan:

  • Yet not once did we hear them say that the plan actually has a surplus on a going concern basis. Now CPC has a four year exemption from solvency payments and we will see if, by that time the long term interest rates have gone back up to their historic average levels. If so this solvency deficit will no longer be an issue.
  • You should be aware that CUPW and CPC are currently in discussions on the pension issue and in fact it was CUPW that proposed establishing a joint task force to examine the pension. Whatever happens with interest rates you can be sure that CUPW will assume our responsibilities and deal with the issue.

In the discussion of these cutbacks, we have heard lots about the estimate of the Conference Board, in a report paid for by Canada Post, that CPC would lose $1billion in 2020.

I would like to ask all of you if you have read this report. Because if you did you will see that the Conference Board based their 2020 estimate on the assumption that CPC would lose $250 million in 2012. Were they correct? No. CPC actually made $94 million in 2012. If the Conference Board can be so wrong about 2012 what makes anyone confident they are right about $2020?

We have also heard a lot about the current financial situation of Canada Post and the decline of letters:

  • Yet we hear very little of the fact that Canada Post made more than $90 million in profits last year. And hundreds of millions of profits in 2010 and 2009.
  • In fact the only year Canada Post has lost money was the year that they had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a ten year old pay equity settlement and also that year they shut down the post office for two weeks when they locked out postal workers. With the exception of that year CPC has been profitable in ever year since 1995.
  • During the years of profitability CPC returned over $1.5 Billion to the federal government in the form of dividends and income taxes.

This year we do not know what will happen. We hear CPC talk about record parcel volumes. But we know there is also a decline in letters.

We accept the fact that things are changing.

However we cannot understand why Canada Post will not follow the example of post offices in the UK, in France, in Italy, in Switzerland and in many other countries, which are currently either beginning a banking service or expanding their existing services.

Today we have thousands of communities with a post office but no bank; we have hundreds of thousands of citizens without bank accounts.

Why is it that the management of all of these other postal administrations has the imagination to expand their financial services and ours does not?

We need innovation not excuses for failure.

In closing I want to repeat our promise that the CUPW will do everything possible to stop these cutbacks.:

  • This is not the first time that a Conservative government has tried to destroy postal services.
  • In 1988 the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney announced it would privative and closes every post office except for eleven.
  • We fought against this for four years.
  • We organized and worked with the people in every region and eventually the Conservatives were defeated and the Liberal government introduced the moratorium on rural postal closures.

It is because of our organization that we still have thousands of post offices open to serve the population.

Today we have a new challenge and once again our union will commit itself to preserving the public postal service.

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