Dec 182013

By Kyle Buott, President of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council and a member of Solidarity Halifax. Originally published on

Image: Solidarity Halifax member Emily Davidson of ALL CAPS Design

This is no ordinary conservative attack.

This is a devastating attack on the most militant union in the country.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has long been a leader in the labour movement.

With a commitment to shop floor action and rank-and-file democracy, the postal workers have fought long and hard to make their jobs into good jobs that pay a good wage. Their commitment to women’s rights is equally impressive, with a strike to win maternity benefits that resulted in maternity benefits for most working women in Canada. Not to mention CUPW’s commitment to international solidarity.

Most importantly, the postal workers have fought for control of the process of their work. This key demand, that a worker should have a say in how the work is done, is the one demand capitalism will never tolerate. Under capitalism, unions are allowed to negotiate the terms of exploitation — through wages and benefits — but we can never negotiate how work is done, or suggest we can do it better ourselves without the boss.

CUPW has broken that rule of capitalism.

The postal workers’ collective agreement includes elements of workers’ control of the shop floor and process of work, and they have fought hard to maintain these gains. Through strikes, lockouts and workplace action, CUPW is the model of a progressive, militant and committed working class union. All of our unions can learn from the posties.

That’s why this is so important.

If Harper and the Conservatives succeed in breaking the postal workers, none of us have a hope in hell.

CUPW has many advantages in this struggle. Their union has long forged relationships with our social movement allies in the student, women’s, peace and environmental movements. Our allies will be needed in this struggle. CUPW has also worked hard to maintain a relationship with the public, and letter carriers talk to millions of Canadians each day.

But CUPW can only be successful if the rest of the Labour movement comes to their aid.

We cannot sit back and watch this happen, hoping it won’t be us next.

This is the time. This is the moment. This is the issue that defeats Stephen Harper and sends the Conservatives packing.

The Labour movement must rise to the challenge. Postal workers will lead, but we have to be ready to follow. From info pickets, door-to-door canvasses, leafleting, rallies, demonstrations, civil disobedience and even a general strike, these cuts must be opposed by all means necessary.

Let this become the symbol of all that is corrupt, rotten and wrong with this Conservative regime. From senate scandals, to patronage, to corporate tax cuts, let all of this become one struggle.

Let this be where we take our stand. Support our postal workers.

What must be done:

1. We must immediately begin to form community-labour coalitions across the country in support of the postal workers.

2. We need to begin to spread information, leaflets and graphics about the nature of these cuts — who they will hurt, why this matters, etc.

3. We need to start talking to our neighbours about the loss of home mail delivery and start gathering the names of folks who don’t want to lose home mail delivery.

4. We need to talk to community organizations, seniors groups, non-governmental organizations, municipal councils, student unions, women’s centres, churches and other organization to build opposition to the Conservative cuts and loss of home mail delivery


Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.


Dec 182013

By Solidarity Halifax member Emily Davidson of ALL CAPS Design

Kyle Buott, President of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council talks to Rick Howe about Canada Post cuts on 95.7 FM. Kyle is a member of Solidarity Halifax.

>>Listen to the interview here [place marker at 29:11]

Note: Statements by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.


Dec 132013

Our Times Magazine‘s latest issue features an article, written by Sima Sahar Zerehi, about Solidarity Halifax’s A People’s History of Nova Scotia conference held last October,

Read the article here: TELLING OUR OWN STORIES: A People’s History of Nova Scotia

Missed the conference? Photos and Videos of the conference are available!


Conference organizers (left to right) Evan Coole, Ben Sichel, Lesley Thompson, Omri Haiven and Jackie Barkley. Photo: Our Times Magazine


Dec 122013

By Judy Haiven, Associate Professor in the Management Department of the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax.  She is also the chair of the Nova Scotia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and a member of Solidarity Halifax.

Originally published in the Halifax Media Co-op.

251002_10150213810759928_1538544_nSix to eight thousand people will be out of work, if Canada Post has its way.

Thousands of others will be pressured into retirement – many before they are financially ready to leave paid work.

All this for a leaner, more profitable Canada Post – if you believe what the corporation is saying. So what is wrong with this view?

First, for back up, Canada Post is justifying it’s decision in part due to the Conference Board of Canada’s spring publication The Future of Postal Service in Canada.  It claims that already two-thirds of Canadians do not have door-to-door mail delivery.  This suggest that two-thirds of Canadians live in rural areas, and have no door-to-door delivery, outside of the major cities.  Hang on—that can’t be true. Statistics Canada say that in 2011, 81% of Canadians lived in urban and 19% lived in rural areas [1]. What the Conference Board is really saying is that most apartment or tower dwellers in major Canadian cities receive their mail through post boxes in their lobbies – not through slots in their doors.  Agreed. In cities such as Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, many people live in high-rises or townhouses and receive their mail at a central point. But why didn’t the Conference Board just say that?

Secondly, Canada Post tells us it ‘costs’ $269 a year to deliver mail to each household in Canada.  But $269 boils down to about $1.07 a day. That sounds like a good deal because Canada Post is a service which delivers paycheques, assistance cheques, pension money, bank statements, all sorts of government cheques, and voting registration cards —on time.  Mail is safe, secure and usually gets to the people to whom it’s addressed.

Third, does Canada need at least 8,000 more unemployed? According to its 2012 Annual Report,  Canada Post employs 68,000 people and has been named one of the Top 100 Employers in Canada for four years running.  Pretax profits in 2012 were $127 million.  One can assume that employees are needed to sort, truck and deliver the mail.  Thanks to the efforts of their union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), these jobs pay a decent wage of about $47,000 a year [2].  Before readers insist posties are overpaid, think about carrying 30 plus pounds of mail through all the weather Canada has to offer—five days a week.  Think of biting dogs, snow and ice.

Finally what is wrong with having a service like Canada Post? Services are what we as a civilized society give to one another to make life more livable.  For example, there is an older man, who lives in a homeless shelter near me, who takes his cat for a daily walk on a leash in my local park. He’s done it for years.  We all pay for parks but we don’t all use them. City parks provide an invaluable service for the man and his cat and those without private back yards.  What if we sold parks to developers who built office or residential buildings on the land. The city could collect tax money from the property taxes, but we residents wouldn’t have the service or the amenity of the park.  By the same token, some of us need the service of Canada Post more than others – but it is a vital service nonetheless.




Read also The Battle At Canada Post And The Future of Our Public Services by David Bush, former member of Solidarity Halifax (due to distance only), published on

Read also Canada Post chooses cuts over better options by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.