June 19, 2018
Canada Post Attempts to Divide Postal
Arbitration Fails to Resolve Decades of
Injustice Suffered by Rural
Suburban Mail Carriers
Postal workers protest outside Supreme Court building in St. John's
March 24, 2018, demanding pay equity.
• Arbitration Fails to Resolve Decades of
Injustice Suffered by Rural
Suburban Mail Carriers - Louis Lang
Commission Declares Crane Operators Are Engaged in
• Stand with Quebec Crane Operators and
Construction Workers Fighting for Their Rights and the Rights of All!
- Pierre Chénier
• Interview, Richard Goyette, Labour Lawyer and
Former Director General, FTQ-Construction
• Information about Diploma of Vocational
Studies in Crane Operation Training
Canada Post Attempts to Divide Postal
Arbitration Fails to Resolve Decades of Injustice
Suffered by Rural Suburban Mail Carriers
The arbitration decision in the Pay Equity Review
Process issued on
May 31, 2018, has failed to correct the wage discrimination
Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMCs) have been raising against Canada Post
since at least 2004. While the decision recognizes that the work
performed by Urban Letter Carriers (LCs)
and the RSMCs is readily comparable and a clear wage gap continues to
exist, the arbitrator has rejected the union's proposals to remedy the
This Pay Equity Review Process was initiated after
negotiations precisely to end many years of failed negotiations due to
the intransigence of Canada Post. Year after year, the company has
refused to recognize its discriminatory actions against RSMCs and
refused to recognize the principle of paying all workers a living wage
acceptable to their collectives.
In a disturbing turn of events the arbitrator, while
much of the evidence presented by the union, has ultimately refused to
make a decision and referred the issues back to the two parties for
further negotiations. By her actions the arbitrator has failed to carry
out her responsibility to settle the issues, for which she was
Furthermore, she has thrown the unjust treatment of RSMCs back into
negotiations that have proved to be impossible for many years because
of Canada Post's insistence on discriminating.
The principle of a living wage for all workers and the
of wage discrimination based on gender are rights that belong to all
workers and not a matter to be relegated to negotiations. Canada Post
continues to attack the dignity of workers, and the refusal of the
arbitrator to uphold rights lets the company off the hook for its
unconscionable treatment of RSMCs.
Referring the matter back to
negotiations is not just another
clumsy delaying tactic, which is the stock in trade of this Liberal
government. It comes at a time when negotiations are underway for new
contracts for both urban and suburban workers. The clear intention is
split the two groups of workers in an effort to undermine the unity of
workers who are fighting to hold the corporation to account.
Postal workers do not forget that in 2004 when
RSMCs won the right
to join the union and bargain collectively for a contract, the
forced the urban workers to give up their severance pay provisions in
the contract. The corporation forced urban workers to reduce their
on the value they produce as "compensation" for
incorporating RSMCs as employees instead of precarious independent
contractors. This time, postal workers are determined not to allow the
corporation to use the pay equity issue to undermine the unity of all
postal workers in the fight for the rights of all.
2016 Negotiations and Pay Equity
In the 2016 round of negotiations between Canada
Post and the
Canadian Union of Postal Workers, a major demand of the union was for
pay equity for RSMCs. The union maintained that LCs
and RSMCs perform comparable work and bring similar capacities to the
work they perform. The union claimed the corporation has failed to
fulfill its obligation under the Canadian
to provide RSMCs, who are mainly women, similar wages and benefits to
The negotiations at that time failed to resolve the
a Pay Equity Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in September
of 2016. With the signing of the MOU the corporation and the union
agreed to establish a Joint Pay Equity Review of the RSMCs' conditions
to see whether they are in accordance with the
Human Rights and the Equal Wages Guidelines.
The Joint Pay Equity Review Process required each of
the parties to
nominate a consultant or expert to produce reports outlining their
respective positions. A Joint Pay Equity Committee (JPEC) was also
established to provide input for the work of the consultants.
This process continued until January 27, 2017
when the Minister of
Labour appointed an arbitrator, Maureen Flynn, to act as a mediator and
arbitrate the issues where no agreement has been reached.
The consultants and the JPEC completed their reports by
October 2017 and this was followed by a series of pre-mediation
meetings in December 2017. No agreement could be reached and the
was referred to arbitration with hearings set to begin on
January 9, 2018. To add to the delays, late in
December 2017, the corporation requested to revise its
report and asked to have the arbitration hearings postponed.
Arbitration hearings finally began February 18, 2018 with
of hearings scheduled until the beginning of May 2018. Arbitrator
released her report on
May 31, 2018.
The lengthy report (176 pages) describes many technical
related to the clauses of the Collective Agreements governing the wages
and working conditions of RSMCs and LCs as well as the requirements of
the Canadian Human Rights Act and related regulations. The
decision assessed the reports of the consultants based on
opposing views about how the two jobs should be evaluated and what
methodology should be used to assess the wage gap between the two
classifications. The following is a quote from paragraph 706 of
 In addition to their
disagreement on the wage gap
methodology, the parties also had conflicting views on certain aspects
of the RSMC and LC compensation. Specifically, the following elements
were debated or treated differently: the applicable job rate, the
inclusion of vehicle expenses in RSMC wages, the inclusion of variable
allowance, the inclusion of overtime wages and the adjustment to LC
wages for paid meals and breaks.
In her report, the arbitrator preferred the union's
many of the issues which were in dispute. Regarding the issue of job
evaluation, the arbitrator concluded that the union consultant's report
"more accurately reflects the job content and better represents the
particularities of each potential comparator." Consequently, she
that the differences between the two jobs are relatively minor and so
the work of RSMCs and LCs can be readily compared.
The arbitrator also rejected the corporation's proposed
calculating the wages of RSMCs because it was based on counting "points
of call" on each route, which the arbitrator described as an approach
based on "labour cost to the corporation" and not one that evaluates
the employees' compensation for the work they perform. The
objective of the Pay Equity Review was to assess if "there is a wage
gap" between the two groups of workers, not to save the corporation
money in wages.
In spite of the fact that
the arbitrator in most cases
preferred the union's approach in establishing the data needed to be
able to properly
assess the wage gap, she rejected the union's conclusions regarding the
actions the corporation needs to take to remedy the systematic
discrimination against the RSMCs.
The union demands damages equivalent to $9.72 per
hour, which is
the calculated difference between the LC net rate and the RSMC derived
hourly job rate. It also demands an improved route measurement system.
The arbitrator rejected these just demands. Instead of ruling on the
matters before the tribunal, which have been analyzed
and discussed since at least September 2016, the arbitrator
make a definitive decision and instead referred the outstanding issues
back to the parties.
Her decision contains the following:
 It is manifest that,
in light of the Undersigned's previous findings, the Union's request
cannot be granted.
 Considering the
necessity for the parties to adjust the
methodology, as stated above, to which is added the inclusion of
variables both in the assessment of direct wages and in the evaluation
of the pension benefits, it is inappropriate to render any decision
regarding damages at this point of the process.
 The time necessary for
the parties to proceed with the
aforementioned adjustments will not cause prejudice to the parties. On
the contrary, it will allow them to find a better and fairer solution
that is more equitable to both. It is in their interest to pursue the
work that was suspended prematurely to achieve more fruitful results.
In her final remarks the arbitrator said:
The parties will thus have
until August 31, 2018, subject to a
mutually agreed extension, to present their agreement. If no agreement
is reached, the Undersigned, after having consulted with the parties'
counsels, will set aside days for arbitration during the Fall
If desired, the Tribunal will set aside the necessary
dates for mediation sessions.
The report of the
arbitrator is of great concern for
workers. While the evidence clearly shows that the corporation's
treatment of RSMCs has resulted in systemic discrimination in terms of
direct and indirect wages, benefits and working conditions for the
close to 8,000 women who perform the work, both negotiations
since 2004 and this latest arbitration process have failed to
the situation. The ongoing blatant discrimination against the RSMCs,
the vast majority being women, is incomprehensible. Many ask why this
flagrant violation of the Canadian
Human Rights Act has not resulted in Canada Post
being held to account. Is discrimination against women
something to be negotiated and not a violation of rights to be
condemned and changed immediately? This is 2018 after all.
Yet the delay tactics continue. By refusing to rule on
her, the arbitrator has revealed that the process is not designed to
solve the problems faced by the workers. The continuous stalling,
delays and excuses are meant to put pressure on the union and the
workers to abandon their just demands.
It cannot be stressed enough that the report of the
Arbitration Tribunal refusing to hold the corporation to account has
been issued while the union is in the midst of negotiations with Canada
Post for the two contracts covering urban and suburban workers, which
expired at the beginning of this year. The decision to refer this
issue of pay equity back to the parties after years of deadlock and
refusal by the corporation to accept its responsibilities to eliminate
wage discrimination against mainly women workers is not a coincidence.
The design is to interfere in negotiations and force the union to
accept yet more concessions and treat the rights of workers as
chips to be bartered away.
Quebec Construction Commission Declares
Are Engaged in Illegal Strike
Stand with Quebec Crane Operators and
Construction Workers Fighting for Their Rights
and the Rights of All!
Montreal demonstration, May 5, 2018, opposes unsafe changes to
regulations on training
of crane operators.
The Quebec Construction Commission (QCC) has declared
operators in Quebec are engaged in an illegal strike. This claim was
made on June 18 after workers did not report for work on
sites throughout the province. The representative of the QCC blustered
in front of the media that it is gathering as much
information as possible to prove crane operators are engaged in an
illegal strike and that criminal charges are soon coming.
Unions or union representatives found guilty of
encouraging, supporting or participating in a strike ruled illegal are
liable to a fine of $7,960 to $79,587 for each day or part of
The workers themselves are liable to fines of up to $199 a day.
representative of the QCC also levelled the, now customary,
charge that intimidation is being used to incite workers to strike and
that criminal proceedings for intimidation will also be filed.
Charges of intimidation can lead to workers being
leading or representing a trade union for five years. This follows a
campaign by the QCC over the last few weeks, travelling to building
sites across Quebec to spy on workers and warn them they will be
prosecuted if they defend their rights in a concerted fashion, such as
refusing to work overtime or engaging in any activities that hinder,
slow down or interrupt work.
The facts of the situation are the following. Crane
working on the construction of the new Champlain Bridge left the job
site on Thursday, June 14. Rain had forced the stoppage of work
general contractor violated the collective agreement requiring crane
operators to be paid a minimum of 5 hours when
operations are halted due to inclement weather.
The crane operators did not return to work on the
the following day and did not show up Saturday for overtime work. On
Monday, June 18, crane operators across Quebec did not show up for
causing those sites that require crane operations to be idled.
The crane operators have been engaged in vigorous
opposition to a
new regulation put forward by the QCC and endorsed by the Quebec
government, which threatens to put the lives and safety of crane
operators, other construction workers, and the public in danger. The
new regulation would drastically reduce the quality and quantity of
training received by crane operators. The government, at the bidding of
has abolished the requirement that a crane operator complete the
Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS), which includes 870 hours of
training. The DVS is now optional and a new training regime has been
introduced made up of a mere 150 hours provided directly
on worksites under company direction.
The QCC and government have also concocted
an 80-hour course to
operate boom trucks with a maximum capacity of 30 tonnes, after
worker who passes the course becomes a qualified operator for that type
of crane. This type of crane has a history of overturning the most and
causing the most damage. This is the
current confrontational context in which the actions of the crane
operators are taking place.
The QCC and government dismiss the efforts of
to defend their right to adequate training. They have refused to listen
to the representations of workers to demand that the new regulations
not be passed and a task force be created with all concerned parties to
study the situation. The QCC has become an oppressive police
agency of the state to criminalize workers who defend their rights and
to stifle the voices of all concerned with the deteriorating standards
and attacks on rights and safety in the construction sector.
In the face of the situation, the Labour Standards, Pay
Workplace Health and Safety Board (CNESST in French) is shamefully
silent about this deliberate lowering of health and safety standards.
The Quebec government, which passed Bill 152 to further
construction workers, has rubber stamped the new
regulations. The institutions that claim to be the
public authority and to represent the public interest refuse to defend
it. They have slammed their doors shut to the workers, the very people
who know from experience the dangers that exist and the increased
danger to everyone with this lowering of training standards and attacks
on rights. What are construction workers supposed to do when all
avenues of discussion within the old institutions are blocked? The
problem construction workers face in this reality is a problem that all
workers and society must face with urgency and determination.
The new regulation and Bill 152 are nothing but
instruments to lower working conditions in construction and attack the
struggle of workers organized in trade unions. The aim is clearly to
increase the profits of construction companies to the detriment of
workers and the public.
Lowering the training standards for workers to qualify
operators and putting the companies in charge of worksite training
increases competition among workers for available work and puts them at
greater risk of injury and death. They will be under even more
pressure from employers to perform dangerous and even illegal tasks
the threat of not being called to work on the next job.
Everyone knows that the big companies responsible for
of crane operators will increase pressure on them to work under the
table, a practice already rampant in construction. According to
construction workers, up until the new regulation, only the crane
operators have been able to keep illegal activities of the companies in
The required vocational training has played a role in this because it
made the workers more knowledgeable, and imbued within their
consciousness the confidence to identify and refuse unsafe work and to
declare openly and legally their hours of work with the full organized
support of the union. The new measure is a deregulation of the crane
operators' trade, a part of the deregulation of construction trades in
general and lowering of working conditions. The sole purpose is to
serve those who own and control the big construction companies and
their expropriation of the value workers create.
The campaign and attacks of the QCC on crane operators
irresponsible actions that violate their rights and put the public in
danger. Cranes are often used in heavily populated areas. The backward
march of the QCC and government deserve condemnation in the strongest
terms by all working people.
Interview, Richard Goyette, Labour Lawyer and
Former Director General, FTQ-Construction
Workers' Forum: Crane
regulations that lower the
professional requirements in their trade. Those regulations are
creating a serious problem, particularly with regard to the health and
safety of construction workers and of the public. What, in your
opinion, are the main features of that fight?
Richard Goyette: The issue can be
summed up as follows: the state is acting in a very contemptuous way
towards construction workers and the public. Conditions existed in the
late 1990s whereby crane operation resulted in the deaths of
construction workers and of the public. This was remedied through the
establishment of 870 hours of mandatory professional training in
the form of a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS), to ensure that every
operation performed by a crane operator would be safe for him or
herself, other workers and the public. That regulation was very
effective in reducing the number of deaths and injuries in the trade.
Now the government, in the name of competition, of broadening access to
the construction trades, or who knows what else, is reverting back to
conditions that killed and maimed people. In the name of the "economy,"
the government is prepared to return to such conditions.
Such contempt is all the
greater given the fact that
both the federal and Quebec Charter
of Rights and Freedoms, the Act respecting occupational
health and safety, Quebec's Civil Code, and the Universal
Rights, an entire legal battery, dictates that
the individual must be taken proper care of, that we
must ensure that workplaces are kept healthy and safe. The governments that passed these laws
and signed declarations are now saying that the law doesn't matter
anymore and that what they call "the economy" takes precedence over
Workers find this appalling. There are already 50
deaths a year in Quebec's construction sector. Rather than saving
workers, more people are going to die. That is the real issue. The
workers know that they are right. Legally, they are right. But in the
short term, they do not have the means to have that right respected.
How to sort out that
problem is the issue facing us.
The Quebec government is trying to play the corporatism
card because it cannot rely on anything else to pass such a regulation.
Workers are being blamed for only being concerned with their own jobs
and are being supported by businesses recognized as crane-leasing
employers. However, the sector developed by respecting the rules. Crane
operators are those who report the highest number of hours worked.
Crane operators even have a recall list, which is something that does
not exist elsewhere in the construction industry. The sector is also
linked to vocational training. According to the government, this is all
costing too much, and the government even had a regulatory impact study
done that claims that a reduction in regulations will lower the payroll
by $1.9 million. This means that more and more work will be done
under the table where anyone will be able to do anything. Crane
operators have posted photographs on their website of boom trucks that
overturned recently. And the attempt is to further liberalize the
operation of such trucks!
So, on that issue you have civil disobedience in the
name of higher ideals, which is not even geared towards an immediate
pecuniary interest, which is civilized, versus a government which is
not civilized and is showing itself to be backward. If people try to
take control of their destiny and that of their community against
dangerous policies, then who is right? Are they the ones who are going
to be fined? Is it their unions that are going to be smashed? Are they
the criminals? The whole world is being turned upside down. That is the
1. Section 46 of the
Quebec's Charter of human
rights and freedoms states:
"Every person who works has a right, in accordance
with the law, to fair and reasonable conditions of employment which
have proper regard for his health, safety and physical well-being."
Section 2087 of the Civil Code of
Quebec states: "The employer is bound not only to allow the
performance of the work agreed upon and to pay the remuneration fixed,
but also to take any measures consistent with the nature of the work to
protect the health, safety and dignity of the employee."
Section 9 of the Act respecting occupational
health and safety states:
"Every worker has a right to working conditions that
have proper regard for his health, safety and physical well-being."
Information about Diploma of Vocational Studies
in Crane Operation Training
Picture of overturned boom truck in Montreal, April 19, 2018, posted to
Under the new regulation implemented since May 14,
professional training of crane operators by way of a Diploma of
Vocational Studies (DVS), consisting
of 870 hours of training, has been abolished. It is now optional
the government and the Quebec Construction Commission have introduced
a 150-hour training program given
directly by the company on the construction site.
FTQ-Construction facebook graphic -- contrasts DVS crane operator
to on-the-job training now accepted.
The introduction of compulsory vocational training in
construction trade in 1997 was not a matter of choice. It was
established within a context of fatal accidents and serious injuries
involving the operation of cranes.
The FTQ-Construction reports that in 1994, faced
with an alarming
number of accidents involving cranes, a round table comprised of the
CSST (Occupational Health and Safety Commission), the CCQ (Quebec
Construction Commission), the Ministry of Education, as well as
employer and trade union associations, agreed to impose
mandatory training entitled "Safe Use of Cranes" on active workers as
well as new entrants to the trade.
The content of this measure was incorporated into the
DVS when it
was created in 1997. According to the FTQ-Construction, since the
creation of the DVS, there has been a 66 per cent drop in the
yearly deaths involving cranes. Between 1973 and 1997, that
averaged 4.5 deaths per year.
Since 1997 until today, that number has dropped to 1.5 deaths
which although still unacceptable, is nevertheless much lower and
proves that training has to be further improved and certainly not
reduced or dismantled. Since vocational training was introduced,
non-fatal accidents involving the use of a crane have also decreased
In its brief submitted to the Quebec government on
February 1, 2018, entitled "Memorandum on Draft Regulations
the Regulation Respecting Vocational Training in the Construction
Industry Regarding Crane Operator Trades," the Collective of Crane
Operators describes the context at that time:
If we sum up the situation
that prevailed at the time, the following elements come to mind:
1. A large number of
accidents occurred on construction sites involving lifting devices;
2. These accidents caused
injuries and deaths, and lesser harm with
regard to the damaging of equipment, vehicles and buildings;
3. Many accidents directly
endangered the lives of citizens who,
because of their work or leisure, happened to be near construction
4. As a result of these
events and in order to remedy the
situation, the Occupational Health and Safety Commission called upon
the Quebec Construction Commission to establish a training program for
the "Safe Use of Cranes," to be given to all qualified operators, all
practicing apprentices and all new candidates intent on joining the
crane operator trade;
5. Following the publication
of the "Plan of Action for the Safe
Use of Lifting Devices" produced by the Occupational Health and Safety
Commission, the Professional Subcommittee of Crane Operators passed a
resolution for that same purpose;
6. As a result of the work
already undertaken by the Professional
Subcommittee of Crane Operators, committee members made specific
reference to the professional training program soon to be established;
7. The "Safe Use of Cranes"
course was only a temporary measure put
in place to deal with the most urgent situations, until full vocational
training would be available and made mandatory for those intending to
operate a lifting device;
8. The content of the "Safe
Use of Cranes" program and of many
other measures were then incorporated into the DVS program, so that
each operation performed by the crane operator proved safe for him or
herself, fellow workers and the public.
[...] once the "Safe Use of
Cranes" course was integrated into the
crane operator's vocational training program, provided by a vocational
training centre, no one could acquire an apprentice competency
certificate without first following the DVS professional training
program. That is also why elements of safety are taught throughout the
training program, and for good reason.
That is, abolishing the compulsory nature of this
program, under the hoax that it is too
rigid, that it hinders the broad access of workers to all the
construction trades (i.e. that it restricts competition amongst the
workers) and that it is not an adequate tool to deal with the so-called
shortage of labour,
is a fraud aimed at lowering the working conditions of the
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