Thursday, June 16, 2011

[olympiaworkers] Locked out workers' anger grows at Canada Post Jun 16 2011

Following weeks of rolling strike action, Canada Post locked out its
50,000 workers on the night of 14 June. Here follows an exciting personal
account of workers fighting back and locking managers in in Edmonton.
Yesterday at the Post Office: June 15th 2011 By P. Gage

Last weekend Canada Post declared a series of service cuts that reduced
the Letter Carrier work week down to three days a week. On the first day
of the service cuts there were several early morning actions where
hundreds of Letter Carriers showed up for work and demanded to deliver
mail that had piled up inside their depots. In Edmonton several depots
took this one step farther by sitting down inside the depot and refusing
to leave. Several other depots rallied outside and marched around outside
their workplaces.

Following these actions the Canadian Union of Postal Workers held a
demonstration on Whyte Avenue where over 300 Postal Workers marched on
Depot 9, one of the largest and most militant depots in the city. When the
workers arrived at the depot they used the password on the door, which had
not been changed, to storm the depot with camera phones in hand. Again the
workers staged an occupation with management locking themselves in their
office to hide from the angry mob. Workers with cameras photographed piles
of mail stuffed into the depot exposing Canada Post Corporations lie that
there was no mail to be delivered.

Workers banged on the walls to make noise, flipped over trash cans to use
as drums and banged on metal racks with sticks. This episode went on for a
while before the crowd retired to Gazebo Park down the road for speeches
and a short rally. Although rowdy, the event was entirely non violent if
not very confrontational. Many workers said afterwards that this day was
the best moment of their lives, but the day was not even yet over.

Across town the facilities still operating were extremely tense with major
confrontations reported with management across the board often involving
groups of workers. As the afternoon wore on the public was told that the
Air Canada Workers were about to be legislated back to work. Emboldened by
this move and in retaliation for militant action across Canada by Postal
Workers the Canada Post Corporation locked the CUPW out at 9:15pm.

As the workers filed out of the plant they noticed that about ten members
of management were staying behind, many putting up tarps over the windows
so no one could watch them operate mail equipment. Incensed the crowd went
on to erect barricades out of metal construction fences at the back gates,
they turned around any trucks coming in and parked a 5-ton Canada Post
vehicle in the truck gate and padlocked the mail inside.

Several hours later the management team started sending their people out
to go home. The pickets locked arms and chanted "no one in, no one out".
Management was informed that the workers sincerely hoped management had
brought pyjamas. The bosses looked dejected. Then the police arrived. They
sincerely wanted to not have to intervene but said we couldn't hold
management forever and at some point it became unlawful confinement and
suggested we open up negotiations.

The pickets decided that an apology was in order from the Labour Relations
team and Senior Management. If one person from the top of the management
team came out and announced to the crowd that they were sorry for
disrespecting the picket line that evening and the previous week during
the rotating strikes the workers would not stop them from crossing the
line in order to leave. Management categorically refused. Our next offer
was to have them come out and walk through a small gap in our lines and
board cabs waiting outside. Their personal vehicles were to remain outside
and over 100 angry postal workers would see them off. We agreed on a path
of travel, the crowd agreed to stick to where they were and heckle.

When management left the building they quickly veered to the right and
made for a gap in the side of the building walking past their personal
vehicles but not entering them. The police officer in charge was visibly
displeased at them breaking the agreement. The crowd surged forward with
camera phones in front jeering and heckling the bosses as they left the
building. The event was rowdy but no one was even shoved, the workers
remained disciplined, not by some outside force but by their own rank and
file members giving each other encouragement.

This day was the high water mark in years of struggle for several
militants in the Post Office and there is no doubt we will carry this
story with us for the rest of our lives. But it is also just the
beginning. Yesterday workers got a taste of their own power and made the
first step towards taking back control over their own work. This won't end
with a new collective agreement and it will continue when we all walk back
into the post office with our heads held high.

Taken from the excellent Recomposition blog

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