How a slight shift in ideology could save Canada Post over $18 million annually, and win the respect of its network of letter carriers across Canada.
Canada Post, since the fall of 2011, has been introducing new equipment, buildings, and delivery methods to its national distribution network.
One of the most controversial, and least cost-effective strategies is the two-bundle system. This idea was borrowed from the United States Postal Service where its letter carriers have been using this system for years. However, this name is a misnomer for Canadian Letter carriers because they are required to deliver flyers to a third of their routes every day. So it is actually a three-bundle system. Today, sorting and consolidating mail into a one bundle system at their workstations is not permitted, and can potentially lead to a suspension.
Why would letter carriers be so upset with such a system? They know it is not efficient.
The way the contract works, especially how the eight hour day is calculated, strongly motivates letter carriers to be the most efficient they can be. The more organized and faster they are, the sooner they can go home.
They are relentless about efficiencies because of this.
Letter carriers know that their speed is related to sorting and organizing all the delivery goods in the most systematic way possible. They rely on the system for success.
If the two-bundle system was efficient and saved letter carriers time, there would be no arguments at all. It would be immediately embraced. However, this is not the case.
It is costing them time, which means it is getting passed on to Canada Post with increased labour.
From my own study of the two-bundle system previously done before the implementation of the modern post, the new system adds two-seconds to every point of call. Some have argued that this figure is too low.
It is true that it can take up to 15 minutes longer to sort and consolidate all the mail together, but it takes an extra 33 minutes to deliver using two-bundle on a 1000 point of call route compared to the old one-bundle system. Even if one was to subtract the 15 minutes, there is still a difference of 18 minutes that is costing the corporation in lost time and productivity.
If one factors out the time it takes to sort in the mail, then the actual time lost is 1.08 seconds per call per day.
This may seem very little, but on a national level this adds up significantly. If one uses Canada Post’s 2011 Annual Report’s numbers (Page 21) on points of call, then a daily figure on losses can be calculated.
Letter carriers daily deliver to 8,821,060 points of call. It probably is more, but just to be conservative, I will stay with the top two delivery categories listed by Canada Post in its Annual Report. Not all of these points have mail every day, 18 percent on average do not.(1) So that makes 7,056,848 points of call delivered by letter carriers on a daily basis.
If one then does the math 7,056,848 x 1.08 seconds, it results in 7621395.84 seconds, or 2117.0544(2) hours in lost daily time, and 533,497 hours annually. If an average letter carrier costs Canada Post $34.00 per hour including wages and benefits, then the two-bundle system is costing Canada Post $71,979.85 in daily lost revenue. If there are 252 working days of the year, then it has potential extra annual costs of $18,138,922.20 in labour to use the two-bundle system instead of the traditional one pull.
This does not include having to deliver in the dark, injuries related to the two-bundle, or other environment factors. The cost may even be more.
Canada Post is not taking this time seriously because their program for calculating an eight hour route is still programmed with the one-bundle variable. Letter carriers are expected to absorb this extra time themselves and typically cannot use this argument for why they are applying for overtime.
(1) Canada Post officially calculates around 62% of daily coverage of a typical route, but this is not correct, especially with the enforcement of flyers to 1/3 of the whole route every delivery day. The number is actually around 82%.