Canada Post union opposes non-vaccination unpaid leave order

Canada Post’s main union is taking on the postal operator over putting non-vaccinated staff on unpaid leave. This could affect as many as 10% of union members.

This follows a government policy announcement that all federal public servants had to declare their vaccination status by 29th October. 

Those unwilling to disclose their vaccination status or to be fully vaccinated had to go on unpaid leave from 15th November. Though Canada Post is classed as a Crown Corporation (separate to federal employees) it has been asked to mirror the civil service position.

Alain Robitaille, president of the greater Montreal local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said that the deadline for postal workers was set as 26 November or to face unpaid leave.

“The postal union is not against Covid vaccination,” he said. “We are aware that it is the best solution possible for the population in general. We know that it is a good thing and we feel it is important to say so. However, what we are contesting to an arbitrator is that we feel there are alternatives for those who don’t want to be vaccinated which are also valid – including frequent screening.”

As well as the classic anti-vaccination movement, many postal workers are not complying over other issues like individual rights, religious convictions and health issues.

“A certain number of members of the postal workers’ union have all sorts of concerns about the vaccines, both founded and unfounded,” he said in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia. “I am sure that a certain number of those concerns are unfounded. However, that being said their fears are very real.”

Around 10% of the workforce have been put on unpaid leave. As well as significant pressures on Canada Post, this causes individuals major problems at home including dealing with rent, debts and bills.“During leave without pay, debts accumulate, anxieties increase within families, damage is done,” he said, noting that the postal service has been one of the few sectors of the country’s economy that continued to operate without stopping since the start of the pandemic early last year.

“We’ve been on the job since the beginning. It’s been hard on families, on human resources. And now this latest development will be yet another blow they’ll have to deal with just as the Christmas season is starting.”

The national union asked the courts for a ‘cease and desist order’ against Canada Post but on 25th November this was refused. However the court granted a hearing and the union will be allowed to present its case.

“CUPW is disappointed by the result, but we still feel we have a good case on the merit,” said Carl Girouard, the CUPW’s national grievance officer.

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