During this era of neoliberal austerity and relentless efforts to roll back equality gains for women, the victory by Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) in their long struggle for pay equity is an important landmark. This group of workers, mostly women, are paid 28% less than other categories of Canada Post employees, a figure which is more than symbolically close to the overall gender pay gap in Canada and many other capitalist countries. RSMCs also have inferior working conditions, while essentially doing the same work as their urban counterparts.
Despite the “women’s equality” rhetoric by Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals (remember the PM’s “because it’s 2015 boast?), it has taken a final decision by Arbitrator Maureen Flynn to confirm that Canada Post must end economic injustice faced by RSMCs.
This success caps years of efforts by the Pay Equity Committee of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which represents RSMCs. The Flynn ruling follows what the union calls “months of difficult negotiations, during which CUPW managed to establish a process to permanently close the wage gap between the RSMCs and the letter carriers of the urban bargaining unit.”
Of course, none of this should have been necessary, if not for the historic inequity against female workers in virtually every corner of capitalist society, imposed by bosses and governments which prioritize private profits, not equity or justice. As one CUPW Pay Equity Committee member points out, “No one should have to negotiate with their employer to ensure they comply with the law. Pay equity has been the law of the land for decades. It’s time for the real enforcement of pay equity for all.”
CUPW deserves full credit for this victory, and wider recognition for its cutting-edge commitment to workplace equity for women, and broader social equality.