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eBay Appeals to Prime Minister over Canadian Mail Disruption

Online sellers in Canada are being negatively impacted by a labor dispute that keeps threatening to disrupt mail into, out of, and within the country, and it’s clear that online marketplaces have also been impacted.

On Monday, eBay urged sellers to sign a letter to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting he and his government take action “to restore confidence in Canada’s postal service” and requesting he explore legislative solutions.

As the busier fall months approach, Canadian sellers are anxious for a resolution. “Due to the uncertainly of the postal situation, my sales are much lower than they would normally be at this time of year,” one eBay seller said.

Back in June, Canada Post had warned large mailers to prepare for a strike or lockout, and since then, sellers have been wary of sending packages to Canadian addresses. Some eBay Canada sellers put their Stores in vacation mode and stopped listing altogether.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) had scheduled a job action in the form of a refusal of overtime beginning Monday starting with the province of Alberta and in the Northwest Territories and scheduled to rotate to a different area each day, but the union held off at the last minute at the request of mediators.

Despite failure to reach an agreement, the union wrote in an alert on its website on Monday, “As requested by the mediators, the parties have agreed to extend the 72-hour notice under Section 87.2 of the Canada Labour Code for 24 hours. This means all job action is postponed until 00:01AM on Tuesday, August 30th. Also, all changes of employment are postponed for the 24-hour period and the collective agreements remain in effect.”

eBay sent an email to Canadian sellers and posted a message on the eBay Canada announcement board on Monday, requesting that if they agreed it was time to end the labor uncertainty to sign the following letter it had drafted “from eBay sellers to the Prime Minister.”

We, the undersigned Canadian eBay sellers, are writing to raise concerns about the negative business implications of the ongoing Canada Post Corporation/Canadian Union of Postal Workers negotiations and to encourage your government to explore legislative solutions to the current situation.

eBay sellers, like other small and medium businesses (SMBs) across Canada, have been dealing with this uncertainty for months; we have been forced to adapt our businesses and make other shipping arrangements for our goods. In demonstration of our resiliency, many eBay SMBs have created a patchwork of alternative solutions, but the work involved in doing so negatively impacts our productivity and competitiveness, and as such, these arrangements are unsustainable.

Canada Post’s role as an enabler of ecommerce drives not only Canadian parcel volume but also unlocks tremendous economic potential among Canadian small businesses: Technology-enabled sellers, such as SMBs on eBay, export at a rate of 99.8% and reach 20 markets on average every year – results far better than those of traditional SMBs. As Canada looks to support SMB innovation and trade, these micro-multinationals demonstrate what is possible while also underscoring the importance of key infrastructure like Canada Post.

With the above context in mind, we strongly encourage your government to take the actions necessary to implement a long-term agreement to restore certainty in Canada’s postal service and ensure consistent, reliable support for Canadian SMBs.

Sincerely the undersigned eBay sellers

You can follow the union updates on the CUPW.ca website.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.