Some Nova Scotia mail carriers embroiled in a pay equity dispute with Canada Post are concerned about planned route changes in rural and suburban areas.
"They're going ahead with the same methods that they've been practicing ever since I've been here, which is the last 23 years," said Karen West, a rural and suburban mail carrier who works out of the Canada Post distribution centre in the Burnside Industrial Park in Dartmouth.
Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) claimed victory in the lengthy dispute May 31 when an arbitrator ruled there is a significant wage gap between what they earn and what urban mail carriers are paid.
"Right now, we don't even get paid by the hour," said West. "We get paid by how many points of call we deliver to."
The union says rural and suburban mail carrier unit, which is predominately made up of women, get paid 28 per cent less than their predominantly male counterparts in the urban operations unit for doing the exact same work.
Wage gap to be closed
As part of her 176-page decision, arbitrator Maureen Flynn asked Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to negotiate a compensation agreement by Aug. 31. If a deal isn't struck by that deadline, Flynn says she will impose a settlement.
But even with that timeline in place, Canada Post is planning to move forward with restructuring several mail routes in Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville. Those changes are expected to come in effect next month using the existing pay system method and would impact 21 full-time workers and two permanent relief workers.
How the restructuring will affect carriers is not yet known. But what is feared is that a reduction in routes could reduce the RCMCs pay.
The union representing the carriers is opposed to the route changes until negotiations with Canada Post are completed.
"This should be stopped until they know what the process is going to be moving forward," said Mike Keefe, first vice-president of CUPW's Nova Local.
"It makes absolutely no sense to go through the time, effort and money to restructure these routes when you may have to turn around a month later and undo it."
Route restructuring should be delayed
The Liberal government has been pretty clear on pay equity, Keefe said.
"We have a ruling from an arbitrator saying the system is flawed and Canada Post, knowing this, is still planning on moving ahead with this restructuring."
Keefe says his union will be contacting local members of parliament in the Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville areas to make sure they are aware of what Canada Post is planning to do. Individual carriers and supporters are encouraged to write their own personal letters to their MPs.
In an emailed statement Canada Post says it is committed to fair and equitable compensation.
"We have committed to our employees that we will act swiftly and diligently with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to find a meaningful resolution," the statement said.
"Employees should rest assured that once the discussions are complete and a resolution is reached, retroactive adjustments to compensation will be determined for all impacted employees."
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