The meaning behind staffing shortages and forced overtime at Canada Post.
The present collective agreement between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has a clause that allows Canada Post to force its letter carriers to do overtime in order to cover routes that are vacant due to illness, disability, vacation or other staff shortages.
The letter carrier typically has no choice and cannot refuse. A refusal is grounds for disciplinary action.
It would not be a problem if management required employees to do this once, maybe twice in a month, but sometimes in the winter it can be every 2nd or 3rd day.
This developed because there is a un-declared hiring freeze at Canada Post, and due to this, there is a staffing shortage. Employees are obligated to work overtime until the freeze is withdrawn.
Why the freeze? It is for three reasons.
Canada Post anticipates that the new collective agreement presently in arbitration will generate at least $10.00 an hour or more in cost-savings with new employees. Management is waiting for the new agreement to come into effect before bringing in new hires.
Secondly, Canada Post is in the midst of restructuring, and a significant amount of positions in the Canada Post network will be lost. This leads to many installations at Canada Post struggling with temporarily too few bodies. Since the collective agreement has a no-layoff clause, Canada Post does not want to hire more employees during this transitional period who will later become surplus.
Thirdly, there is a problem with retaining casual help. The work is physically demanding, especially in winter, the training is very rudimentary and mechanisms to support new hires is virtually non-existent. It typically takes a new hire 2-4 extra hours a day to complete a typical 8 hour route. If there is a problem on-route, the immediate supervisor is difficult, if not impossible, to contact because he or she does not have a company cell phone and leaves most incoming land-line calls for the answering machine. Therefore the dropout rate is extremely high.
The few that do survive such obstacles beat some difficult odds and must be applauded.
Until the new collective agreement is completed by the arbitrator, present employees must fill the staffing shortages with forced overtime.