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Delivery workers deserve hazard pay!

Paula Greenberg

May 12, 2020

Thousands of packages are processed daily by private courier companies and postal service workers across Canada. While shipping and handling corporations continue to operate during the pandemic, the health and safety of workers is a growing concern. In the US, there has been illnesses and deaths among workers prompting a walk-out of Amazon FedEx and Instacart workers on May Day. We must support these actions as these workers deserve respect. They are deemed essential workers and are putting themselves at risk to keep goods moving across the country. They deserve hazard pay, they deserve proper safety regulations.

In Canada, there is a very similar anger growing among postal and shipping workers. Speaking to a worker at the one of the largest courier distribution facilities in Canada, their fear of workers getting sick and dying is becoming real as more and more are missing from work. The corporation is not denying nor confirming there is an outbreak in the facility leaving workers in the dark if they have become exposed to COVID19. Even though management is claiming they are taking precautions by giving gloves and masks, there is no transparency of how many are ill. Both the corporation and the union have failed to provide information to workers about the possible cases in the facility.  “We can’t say anything... we might be fired... we are putting people’s lives at risk.” said the worker as they expressed that the company is built on their hard work. If they called in sick, they would have to self-isolate for 14 days without pay or come in sick.

Another significant point that this worker stated is that many of the workers are from the Jane and Finch area, and “who cares if we die?.” Black and brown communities are disproportionately affected by COVID 19. As many racialized workers are in the service industry, many do not see sick pay or hazard pay. When talking about the government response, the worker said, “the employees have no outlet to speak up and there is nobody to listen to them, there’s no Ford, there’s no Trudeau.” The governments’ response to a $4 top up for essential workers fails to extend to those in shipping and handling. Due to the public nature of this industry, workers are routinely exposed.

There needs to be respect for postal workers for the essential service they provide. They spend their day making sure the packages and goods we send to our loved ones are delivered on time. They too, like the healthcare workers, deserve better pay and working conditions!

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