May 14, 1954

CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

I am prepared to take the minister's word; but I have a return here and in it there is no such letter sent to the Legion. There is one sent to the Legion with which I do not quarrel. There is another type which asks for nominations. That is not so with regard to the type of letter sent to the Legion. If the minister tells me this is sent to defeated candidates-and may I say that we know that is so-may I ask this question? Does he think it is a good idea?

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LIB
LIB

Tom Goode

Liberal

Mr. Goode:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to say something with regard to this matter. I have never known of an occasion of the change of a sub-post office in my riding or of the establishment of a new one when the Legion has not been notified and has not received from the Postmaster General an invitation for a recommendation.

Supply-Post Office

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SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. Hahn:

One question I asked the minister to answer and in which I was particularly interested has also been raised in this particular letter to the Legion and the point that the hon. member for Burnaby-Richmond raised, namely that the Legion receives this form of letter. It was the response to one of these letters, and the wording of it, that made it so difficult for the legionnaire, in the instance to which I referred, to apply for the post. The question I raised earlier was this: Was any consideration given, or could any consideration be given to allowing those people on rural routes who are not patrons of the post office to be eligible for the position?

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LIB
SC
LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

I am informed that it applies to rural routes, depending on the post office in question.

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SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. Hahn:

That is the point. I was wondering whether the minister would contemplate changing that particular act in order to make it possible for the legionnaires and other people who are on that rural route but who do not receive their mail from that post office, even though they might get their stamps, money orders and so on from the office, to be eligible for appointment. The point in question happens to be a post office in my own riding. The Legion was notified and they have that difficulty. No one was eligible.

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

I am not familiar with the case my hon. friend is talking about, but if he will write to me giving details I will be glad to look into the matter.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Gillis:

I should like to ask the minister two questions about letters that I wrote him. I carried on some correspondence with him in February of this year at the request of the New Waterford board of trade with respect to an extension and improvements to the post office in that area. The last correspondence I had from the minister indicated that the matter was under consideration, and I should like to know whether he can bring me up to date. On February 5 I also wrote the minister about the possibilities of establishing rural mail delivery at West-mount, Nova Scotia, at the request of a co-operative housing group. I wrote the minister on February 5 and I never received an answer.

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

I am sorry. Did you not receive an acknowledgment of the letter at least?

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Gillis:

No, it is neglect on your secretary's part.

Supply-Post Office

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?

Charles Delmar Coyle

Mr. Cole:

I will look into the matter.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Gillis:

I should like to be brought up to date on, these two matters if it is possible for the minister to do so.

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?

Charles Delmar Coyle

Mr. Cole:

I see that the only information with respect to New Waterford is that we are actually considering an addition there. I am sorry I have not got the information about the Westmount rural route, but I have taken a special note about that and will let my hon. friend know.

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Item agreed to. 342. Operations-including salaries and other expenses of staff post offices, district offices, railway mail service staffs, and supplies, equipment and other items for revenue post offices, also including administration; and including, notwithstanding section 16 of the Civil Service Act, payment, in such amount or amounts as may be approved from time to time by the treasury board, to civil servants who are hired as casual employees, $76,007,630.


CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Before this item carries, I should like to say a word. As a matter of fact, this is the largest item in the minister's estimates, and the details make it clear that it covers some 20,354 employees. That is quite a large staff, and I agree with those who have already paid tribute to the very efficient work that is done by this very large band of faithful public employees. I think too that the Postmaster General was quite justified tonight in calling attention to the complicated nature of the process of handling mail, illustrating it as he did by the example of what goes on in a large city like Toronto between five o'clock and ten o'clock in the evening.

The reason I rise on this item and refer to this large group of workers is to stress something about which I feel very strongly, namely, that while this also applies to a smaller group as well, when you get a large group of workers such as that in the minister's department, labour relations become extremely important. I am ready to give the minister every bouquet and compliment that is coming to him and to his department, but I must say that the labour relations in his department do leave considerable room for improvement. We have already discussed tonight one other issue, and during that discussion my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway, expressed the view, with which I agree, that it is unfortunate that we should be in the position of having to raise these matters on the floor of parliament. It should be possible for such matters to be settled between the recognized representatives of the employees and the management.

Sometimes I think it might be a good idea if the Postmaster General were to invite his

colleague, the Minister of Labour, to send to his department some of his labour-management co-operation experts. I have in mind the sort of letter that comes back to associations of employees when they have written to the deputy postmaster general setting out a grievance. Here is a letter dated March 10, 1954, signed by W. J. Turnbull, deputy postmaster general, which is contained in sessional paper No. 94-G, tabled in the house on Monday, May 3, 1954. It has to do with another thorny question, that of the night differential. It is a matter which I think could have been negotiated. It seems to me that the case the men put up was a valid one. Maybe there is something to be said on the other side; maybe a compromise could have been effected. But after stating that it was the intention of the department to stand by the decision that had been taken, the deputy postmaster general concluded this letter by saying;

I have no wish to tell you how to run your own affairs, but my observation is that the sympathy and patience of the public towards operating service employees is rapidly running out. We intend to establish a 40-hour week for all and could very well drop the idea of any night differential.

Yours sincerely,

W. J. Turnbull,

Deputy Postmaster General

I suggest to the Postmaster General that that is an example of very poor labour relations.

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Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Hear, hear.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

In this same file which I have in my hand-it is not as voluminous as the one my colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg North, had but it is a rather unfortunate one-there are other letters similar in tone. I suggest to the Postmaster General that he take seriously the point that was made a while ago by the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway and that he do his best to establish the kind of labour relations in his department with this band of over

20,000 employees that will make it unnecessary for us to bring up these labour matters on the floor of parliament. These 20,000 employees are good, faithful public servants. They have chosen their own organizations. They have elected their representatives. There are good men on the management side, on the government side, and there is no reason why they could not sit down and bargain in good faith, not in the one-sided way set out in that kind of letter, but in good faith. In that way they could work out the best of relations. I may be speaking pretty strongly, but I am interested in the response

the Postmaster General is making to our pleas, and I hope he will do something about this very important matter.

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Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Before we adjourn, may I add a word to what the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre has said in addition to what I said before. Like almost every other member of parliament, 1 presume, I get letters from associations such as the letter carriers association and others, and I invariably reply to them that the matter they refer to is one that they should settle in discussions between the administrative officers of the department and the association. This is an age when workers' organizations are and must be recognized, and such matters as this have no place here at all. It is extremely unfortunate that they should be brought up here but they will be as long as shortsighted people in important positions do not understand the needs and feelings of those who perhaps do the menial jobs in our public service.

Item stands.

Progress reported.

Supply-Post Office BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

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May 14, 1954