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Please, Mr. Postman

Posted on January 21, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Craig Funston

The very first full-time job I ever had, once I got my teaching degree, was that of a letter-carrier—also known as mailman or postman. I’m good with any of them, even with the Canadian-esque term “postie.”

So you need to know that I have a soft spot for Canada Post, for many reasons: as a former employee, as a father of a present employee, and as a consumer of some of its services.

Even though I left the job almost three decades ago, I do have a few good memories. As I recall, I found that there are a lot of pluses with being a mailman: free exercise, fresh air, angry people and loud dogs that love to greet you—but their bark is worse than their bite. And that went for the dogs, too.

If done right, I was usually home sometime just after 1:00 PM every day. The striking fact is that I was paid till 3:00 PM, for work I did not do—not good economic sense.

There is no question that I was in better “shape” back then: I didn’t have the bowling pin figure that I do now, and the only cardiovascular issue I had was trying to spell the word. Back then, I could huff and puff and blow any house down; now, I just huff and puff.

The current dilemma of Canada Post is they are considering shutting down door-to-door delivery across Canada very shortly. They are in such desperate shape to save money, they’re going after door-to-door delivery.

I suggest that they may just simply delay the cutbacks, or tighten hours of delivery: They should pay for work done, rather than pay for work not done. And don’t forget that you read it here first.

There is no doubt that Canada Post is in serious financial trouble, and has been for several years. Most crown corporations are. That’s why government and business don’t mix well. I’m not an economics major, but I do know that good money after bad is a recipe for financial chaos.

Any organization with limited accountability, militant unions, government support, and diminishing need, is an organization destined for trouble. And on that basis, Canada Post is in trouble—serious trouble. Less snail mail and more email doesn’t help, either.

Where does one start, when it comes to pointing out areas they need to work on? I could speculate, insinuate, and tabulate, but I would be spouting off—and I do that enough already.

The most obvious area would be the mailmen themselves, because, well, that’s what’s under discussion. I am thinking, in particular, of the paid hours in which they don’t work. I have alluded to that problem already, and I doubt if things have changed. To cut out all door-to- delivery seems mighty drastic, especially when a tweak here and there would do.

That’s like cutting off one’s hand when there’s only a sliver in the finger: No, skip the amputation and just deal with the finger.

Mailmen, in my humble opinion, should be paid for the hours they work. They have so many hours in any given day to deliver the goods. It is well-calculated and doable. If they want to rush through their route, no problem; if they want to get home, or, as was the case with many of my colleagues, get to that other job, no problem. But if they want to get paid for not, ahem, delivering the goods, that’s a problem.

They should only get paid for the hours they work—no more, no less. (Maurice, six hours work means six hours pay—not eight hours pay.) That’s how any sound business operation works.

If you calculate the money Canada Post lost on only one individual on a daily basis, on the above formula, then multiplied that by every postie in the depot, times the number of posties on that same day in every Post Office throughout Canada, you would have staggering figure to work with. Then multiply that by every day every postie has worked throughout their lifetime, and you will quickly grasp where they could save some money.

That’s no economic trickle–that’s a flood.

I don’t know if Canada Post has thought of plugging its leak or not. They sure haven’t attempted to contact me for more ideas. If they want to, they can contact me at work—and I’m always there long after 3:00 PM.

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