The Richmond Review, Wednesday, July 8, 1981


by Graeme Elliott


Dear Pierre ELLIOTT,
I wanted to mail this letter, but due to the present inconvenience, I have to print it here, in the hope you will notice it.
I realize you try to stay above petty squabbles in order to keep you head clear, so you may better attend to the nation's business, whatever you may percieve that to be. It is an admirable trait, but I would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to intervene in this postal strike.
This lack of letters is disturbing. How is a person to carry on without his daily shot of fan mail?
You and I are similar, Pierre. We both like to read our fan mail, as a kind of tonic. We know we are doing the right thing, and we like the little boost of acknowledgement the morning sack of mail brings.
How are you coping? I recommend my fans hand-deliver their bouquets, while those of a less-congratulatory bent can use a courier service. Granted, it makes for a long line-up at the Review offices. All those delivery vans cause quite a nuisance.
Perhaps you could drop a hint to Donald Johnston over at the Treasury Board. He started this mess, so maybe you could lean on him to end it. I would tell him myself, but I lost his phone number, and it is hard to send him a letter.
After all, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is not asking all that much. They want a contract. Unions are funny that way. Their last one expired Dec. 31, 1980, and they would like to have a new one before they have to start negotiating the next one.
As you know, Pierre, Johnston forced this disruption when he made the unprecedented move of rejecting the concilliation board chairman Pierre Jasmin's report as a basis for continuing negotiations. That wasted five-and-a-half months put into the concilliation process.
After rejecting the
report, Johnston then reiterated the position the government had stated at the end of December. It is enough to make a person think Mr. Johnston is not interestd in resolving the issues.
It is a pity, Pierre. All this inconvenience caused by one man's refusal to talk, at least.
Please talk to him; we would all appreciate it.
By B.C. (west of the Rockies, past Alberta, if I may nudge your memory, Pierre) standards, the union is begging, asking for alms.
There is not a big money issue on the table, not even the maternity leave proposal. It is accepted practice in Europe, but Mr. Johnston seems afraid to allow it here. He will not be having a baby in the next while, despite the egg he has laid, so I guess it doesn't affect him personally.
The CUPW has proposed a 20-week fully-paid maternity leave, but is willing to settle for the 17-week stint Jasmin recommended.
They are not asking the post office to shell out the whole amount for the 17 weeks. They are only asking the post office to supplement the 15-week UIC benefit normally paid for maternity leave. The whole benefit works out to less than a two-cent an hour cost.
This is truly penny ante, Pierre. It is not worth inconveniencing the entire nation.
The entire package the union is proposing amounts to only $1.70 an hour. A large employer in B.C. might jump at the chance to negotiate with them, and keep them working in the bargain.
After all, it is a good, cheap service. Seventeen cents to sent a letter anywhere in Canada is a bargain. Courier services to send a letter from Richmond to Vancouver start at four dollars, and cost around 15 dollars to get a letter to Ottawa.
That is why I am unable to send this letter to you, Pierre. I don't have that kind of money. Neither do my fans, nor yours, I am sure.
Yours sincerely,
Graeme ELLIOTT

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Last updated: Sunday, 15-Feb-2009 11:08:59 EST