Staffing Shortages and Forced Overtime at Canada Post

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 Employees are obligated to work overtime until the freeze is withdrawn.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.

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8 Responses to Staffing Shortages and Forced Overtime at Canada Post

  1. Who knows what Canada Post is thinking.

  2. kitchener postie says:

    Hey Charles, what’s going in the Peg lately, with respect to postal transformation! Haven’t heard much from you recently.

  3. Ole Juul says:

    Hi Charles,
    You can delete this comment if you like since it is not intended for this story. I came here because I was searching, but perhaps it is a subject of interest to you.

    I just noticed that it costs more for someone to send a package to my rural address from Toronto or Vancouver, than it does for me to send the same package back. I suppose that could make some sort of sense, but I noticed that it costs more to send it to my local post office in Princeton, (where it goes first) than to my (further out) local box. This just made me want to figure out where these sorts of discrepancies come from. Canada Post seems to offer no easy way to find an explanation of rates other than their rate calculator which is not an explanation at all. Anyway, if there is something interesting in that to you, then fine.

    Regards,
    Ole Juul

  4. Scott says:

    Hi Charles.

    I’m currently undertaking a study on Postal Workers in Edmonton. Thanks for this post, as I have been a bit tied up in understanding the logic of understaffing and forcing overtime on full timers (at overtime wages) instead of relying on the pool of cheap casual workers to cover unfinished routes as part of the process of reducing the workforce through attrition. you’ve helped me to better understand this practice in noting:

    “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.”

    My question to you is one of sources. Where may I be able to find other writings that analyse this situation? Universities are picky about the utilization of online sources like blogs …

    Thanks!
    Scott

    • There are no studied sources that I know of that can substantiate what you are looking for. I don’t know if you will get enough feedback from this site to build a thesis. The best place is to contact the CUPW facebook group and apply for memberships status. If granted, you can post the same question as above, and I am sure you will get an ample supply of answers from across Canada.

  5. Scott says:

    Of course, others are welcome to chime in here as well 🙂

Comments are closed.