Tough Times for the Posties
A proud single mother of five, union activist Donna Mendes has been a postal worker for 14 years and an active shop steward on the work floor for more than seven. She is currently the 1st Vice President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Nova Local.
Since they returned to work on June 27 of last year following the passing of the Harper government’s back-to-work legislation, times have been tough for Posties says Mendes.
The "postal transformation," as it has been called by the management of Canada Post, has made a hard job harder.
In the first five weeks following its implementation, Mendes says work-related injuries were reported by one out of every four postal workers. Longer hours (between 10 and 12 for most routes), a doubled workload (literally), and constant harassment by management have become the norm.
“Every week I’m submitting a significant number of human rights and workplace bullying complaints,” Mendes says. From pregnant women being sent home without pay to one case where a worker was suspended for singing on the job, Canada Post has become an increasingly inhospitable place to work. “It’s coming from all angles,” says Mendes. “We have to get to the point where they’re never one step ahead of us.”
The issues for postal workers are huge, and they need to be addressed on a daily basis. It can be exhausting, and it keeps stewards like Mendes extremely busy. “It’s not about wages or benefits anymore; it’s about being able to get up and go to work for eight hours with a peace of mind,” says Mendes.
“Most postal workers just want to come in, do our jobs, and then go home.”
You can catch Donna Mendes speaking about human rights issues and discrimination in the workplace at the upcoming State of Our Unions panel discussion on February 22 from 6:30 - 9:00 at Just Us! Coffee House, 5896 Spring Garden Rd.