Canada Postal Strike to Impact Online Sellers
By Kenneth Corbin
After more than half a year of stop-start negotiations, talks between Canada Post and the postal workers' union have broken down, resulting in a limited strike set to begin just before midnight on Thursday.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) announced that it would begin the long-threatened strike in Winnipeg, saying that the local would suspend service for 24 hours in that city before the work stoppage moves to other locations. The union said this limited, rotating strike is meant to ramp up pressure on Canada Post to give ground on an array of issues concerning safe working conditions, benefits and pay.
For online sellers shipping to customers in Canada, the impact at first is likely to be gradual, given the union's tentative plan only to halt service in specific locations for a day at a time. However, the union is not foreclosing on the possibility of a national strike should the deadlock continue, and Canada Post could also exercise its right to lock out the workers.
CUPW said it chose Winnipeg as the first affected area because it was that city where Canada Post first implemented its so-called modernization program that drew the union's ire. Canada Post, meantime, insists that wage adjustments and a restructuring of workers' benefits are necessary to ensure the continued fiscal viability of the country's mail service.
Some sellers posting on forums such as Etsy have said they would post notes on their websites explaining the delivery disruption, perhaps pointing customers to other shipping options such as FedEx, DHS and UPS, and adjusting prices accordingly.
eBay Canada warned its users of the strike and said it would work closely with its Seller Standards team "to ensure that Canadian sellers do not lose status due to postal disruption-related issues."
The U.S. Postal Service issued a statement saying that it would continue to "accept, process and deliver mail to Canada until further notice," pointing out that Winnipeg represents just 2 percent of the country's population.
"In the unlikely event of a nationwide Canadian postal strike, the U.S. Postal Service will still be able to provide customers letter and package service via Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) service," USPS said.
Seven months into the negotiations, both sides have made some concessions, and throughout the process each party characterized some rounds of talks as productive, highlighting signs of progress as they inched closer to a middle ground. But now, after numerous revisions to the respective sides' proposals, the union has been unable to back Canada Post down from its insistence on replacing sick leave with a short-term disability plan and lowering pay for new hires, both issues that it maintains are deal breakers.
Canada's National Executive Board will continue to monitor the negotiations, and Denis Lemelin, CUPW's national president and chief negotiator, said the two sides plan to meet again on Friday. Lemlin is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday morning to expand on the union's position and the state of negotiations.
About the Author
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here .
About the author:
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.
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