‘Wore out from long mail routes’ - union

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on January 8, 2016

The old adage may list off rain and snow as things that won’t hamper postal delivery, but local mail carriers are fed up with working into the night trying to get their new routes finished.

They held a protest today outside the Canada Post building on Kenmount Road.

“Our workers are frustrated and our routes need to be fixed,” Craig Dyer — president of Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Local 126 told The Telegram following the protest.

Since the restructuring of routes in October that involved putting in the new community mailboxes in much of the city, workers say they have been pumping in large amounts of overtime daily to get their routes completed. According to Dyer, their eight- or nine-hour days have ballooned to 10-plus and they aren’t improving as people get used to the routes. Health and safety is becoming a worry for the union as exhausted workers are still on the job well after dark, he says. Despite raising the issue, Dyer claims nothing worthwhile has been done.

“The future doesn’t look good to have our problems alleviated. They’ve sent down many corporate people down to look at St. John’s to no avail. They haven’t fixed anything,” Dyer said.

Disciplinary action has also been taken against carriers for not getting their routes done, he says.

Using his route as an example, Dyer explains the issue. Prior to restructuring, he delivered door-to-door to 470 houses, which he could reasonably get done in a regular day. Now he works in the Kilbride area and has 1,500 houses which are taken care of through about 70 community mailboxes that he has to visit daily. The 37 stops he makes to visit community mailboxes in a given area means less walking than previous, but after months of doing the route, it simply can’t be completed without putting in daily overtime hours.

“It’s impossible,” he says.

John Caines with Canada Post media relations, told The Telegram from Ottawa that the changes made in October were done to national standards.

“Change is difficult,” he said, adding that in this instance especially it could be difficult to adapt originally to the changes because the Christmas season and the extra workloads that come along with it for postal carriers arrived right on the heels of the new routes being introduced.

“Now that we’re back to a normal volume, we’re gonna look at the whole process together,” Caines said.

“Whatever problems we identify, we’ll address them then.”

Caines said that process will begin as soon as possible.

Dyer has been told the routes are going to be looked at next week and something will be done.

“I don’t really believe it, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Dyer said similar issues with completing new routes are being experienced in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and Halifax, N.S.

There are still about 11,000 houses in the St. John’s and Mount Pearl areas that have door-to-door delivery.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com