The Canada Post Strikes: What Your SMB Needs to Know
Small businesses across Canada have been feeling the effects of Canada Post’s rotational strikes. So what do you do when it’s the busiest online shopping season ever and one of your primary distribution channels goes missing in action?
A Long History of Labour Disputes
Canada Post strikes are nothing new. Between 1965 and 1997 the company was involved in 19 strikes, lockouts, and walkouts with various unions. If that sounds like a lot, it is—the company has a troubled history of labour relations. The most notable occurrences were the strike of 1975 (43 days) and that of 1978 (42 days).
With the uptake in e-commerce over the past years, small businesses rely on the mail system more than ever. It’s an integral part of their customer service and without it, the options to get products into customer’s hands are limited.
What’s Going on This Time?
Near the end of October, labour talks between the CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) and Canada Post hit a wall. The union is saying that Canada Post needs to address issues that have stemmed from the explosive growth of parcel deliveries, including health and safety concerns and forced overtime.
The strike is working on a rotational schedule. This means it affects one major city for 24 hours and then moves onto the next. By now, it has hit most of the large cities and everyone has felt the impact. It’s causing delays of up to a week in some instances. The CUPW plans to continue with it until common ground with Canada Post can be reached.
Just last week, the federal Liberals have given the House of Commons notice that they're prepared to legislate Canada Post employees back to work. This would involve evoking the “back-to-work” legislation, something the government wants to avoid. This doesn’t mean that postal workers will be forced back to work just yet, leaving things up in the air.
What to do in the Meantime
We spent some time talking to our customers to see how they are handling the situation. The most important thing they all echoed was that educating the customer is the priority. If customers are made aware that deliveries may be delayed up to a week, they can plan ahead. One effective tactic is placing the warning on the checkout page when customers select shipping options. What’s even more helpful is including shipping alternatives, be it Purolator, FedEx or UPS if available.
At the end of the day, every business in the country is dealing with the same issues. We can hold out hope that service will be back to normal soon, but for now, don’t let it slow you down.
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