Locked out workers' anger grows at Canada Post

Locked out workers' anger grows at Canada Post

Following weeks of rolling strike action, Canada Post locked out its 50,000 workers on the night of 14 June. Here follows an exciting personal account of workers fighting back and locking managers in in Edmonton.

Yesterday at the Post Office: June 15th 2011 By P. Gage

Last weekend Canada Post declared a series of service cuts that reduced the Letter Carrier work week down to three days a week. On the first day of the service cuts there were several early morning actions where hundreds of Letter Carriers showed up for work and demanded to deliver mail that had piled up inside their depots. In Edmonton several depots took this one step farther by sitting down inside the depot and refusing to leave. Several other depots rallied outside and marched around outside their workplaces.

Following these actions the Canadian Union of Postal Workers held a demonstration on Whyte Avenue where over 300 Postal Workers marched on Depot 9, one of the largest and most militant depots in the city. When the workers arrived at the depot they used the password on the door, which had not been changed, to storm the depot with camera phones in hand. Again the workers staged an occupation with management locking themselves in their office to hide from the angry mob. Workers with cameras photographed piles of mail stuffed into the depot exposing Canada Post Corporations lie that there was no mail to be delivered.

Workers banged on the walls to make noise, flipped over trash cans to use as drums and banged on metal racks with sticks. This episode went on for a while before the crowd retired to Gazebo Park down the road for speeches and a short rally. Although rowdy, the event was entirely non violent if not very confrontational. Many workers said afterwards that this day was the best moment of their lives, but the day was not even yet over.

Across town the facilities still operating were extremely tense with major confrontations reported with management across the board often involving groups of workers. As the afternoon wore on the public was told that the Air Canada Workers were about to be legislated back to work. Emboldened by this move and in retaliation for militant action across Canada by Postal Workers the Canada Post Corporation locked the CUPW out at 9:15pm.

As the workers filed out of the plant they noticed that about ten members of management were staying behind, many putting up tarps over the windows so no one could watch them operate mail equipment. Incensed the crowd went on to erect barricades out of metal construction fences at the back gates, they turned around any trucks coming in and parked a 5-ton Canada Post vehicle in the truck gate and padlocked the mail inside.

Several hours later the management team started sending their people out to go home. The pickets locked arms and chanted “no one in, no one out”. Management was informed that the workers sincerely hoped management had brought pyjamas. The bosses looked dejected. Then the police arrived. They sincerely wanted to not have to intervene but said we couldn’t hold management forever and at some point it became unlawful confinement and suggested we open up negotiations.

The pickets decided that an apology was in order from the Labour Relations team and Senior Management. If one person from the top of the management team came out and announced to the crowd that they were sorry for disrespecting the picket line that evening and the previous week during the rotating strikes the workers would not stop them from crossing the line in order to leave. Management categorically refused. Our next offer was to have them come out and walk through a small gap in our lines and board cabs waiting outside. Their personal vehicles were to remain outside and over 100 angry postal workers would see them off. We agreed on a path of travel, the crowd agreed to stick to where they were and heckle.

When management left the building they quickly veered to the right and made for a gap in the side of the building walking past their personal vehicles but not entering them. The police officer in charge was visibly displeased at them breaking the agreement. The crowd surged forward with camera phones in front jeering and heckling the bosses as they left the building. The event was rowdy but no one was even shoved, the workers remained disciplined, not by some outside force but by their own rank and file members giving each other encouragement.

This day was the high water mark in years of struggle for several militants in the Post Office and there is no doubt we will carry this story with us for the rest of our lives. But it is also just the beginning. Yesterday workers got a taste of their own power and made the first step towards taking back control over their own work. This won’t end with a new collective agreement and it will continue when we all walk back into the post office with our heads held high.

Taken from the excellent Recomposition blog


Jun 16 2011 13:12

Thanks for posting this and for the kind words.

Jun 16 2011 14:28

I see from the Guardian 15/06/11 that Moya Greene the newish CE of Royal Mail in charge now of getting rid of up to another 20,000 postie jobs was previously in charge of Canada's postal service known there at the time as 'Darth Vader'.

Hopefully posties in Canada and here as well as in Europe can learn from each other as well as the bosses.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 16 2011 16:18

Solidarity Statement from NL SolFed:

Jun 17 2011 04:49

Solidarity from Dunedin, New Zealand!!

Your actions are truly inspiring!

Is there a strike/lockout fund we can contribute to?

Jun 20 2011 03:38
The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) stands in solidarity with our Canadian sister and brother postal workers.Their struggle to retain public services and to keep the wages for new hires from neing slashed. This struggle has been met with a lock-out by Canadian Post management and the threat of a scab-back-to-work order.

The W.S.A. supports the Posties in their struggle. Services must remain regularly available to the public. New hires should not be treated like peons working for crumbs.

An injusry to the Posties is an Injury to the Public!

June 18, 2011

Jun 24 2011 01:43

From here in Canada (Vancouver) it's not clear to the public whether we have any good reason to support it the strike. Rather there's a vague annoyance at not being able to send/receive mail - "oh those unions, always striking over something or other" - and simultaneously an awareness of how unimportant paper mail has become, now that we can pay our bills online.

"Canada Post strike: Residents ask if they really need a postman" pretty much sums it up.

In light of that kind of public sentiment, I'm skeptical of the strike's ability to endure and spread. You need to engage in some marketing, make the strike relevant to people, spread your message.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 24 2011 19:08

Yeah, but there's something to said that public support doesn't win strikes. If it did, the miner's strike here in the UK would have been won 100 times over. While engaging the public is great, it's fundamentally power, organization, and solidarity that wins strikes.

Jun 26 2011 08:20

Just saw a flyer with the headline "We want to deliver your mail...but Canada Post won't let us!" Yeah that's getting us closer to the revolution isn't it.

If Canada Post gets their wage raise or whatever, they'll have won the battle and sabotaged the war.

Jun 26 2011 09:49

What are you talking about?

Jun 26 2011 19:58

Admin: no flaming.

Jun 27 2011 01:40

The mail is obviously important enough to management, so it doesn't really matter, it's also important to the state.

As someone has already said, public sympathy can help but does not necessarily win strikes.. solidarity from the public and practical help can make a contribution but that's quite different. And hidden empathy from the public is usually much higher than a few comments on some internet sites, usually by people who frequent comments sections but I do imagine, if you cared to look, that you'd see a lot of comments on the side of workers.. believe it or not, they are usually there if you ignore the inevitable slew of right-wing reaction by a small amount of commentators.