Small busi­ness sup­port for Canada Post

The gov­ern­ment does not speak for me and I re­sent that my in­ter­ests are be­ing as­sumed to force back-to-work leg­is­la­tion.

The Coast - - FRONT PAGE - BY HEATHER GRANT

In fol­low­ing the pro­gres­sion of the Canada Post strike, I’ve seen noth­ing but head­lines fo­cused on the small busi­ness own­ers who are suf­fer­ing, the free­lancers who are not re­ceiv­ing their che­ques, the fam­i­lies whose “Christ­mases are be­ing held hostage.” I am an in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor, a free­lancer and a small busi­ness owner, and I rely solely on reg­u­lar mail de­liv­ery in or­der to re­ceive 100 per­cent of my in­come. With­out this I can­not pay my rent, my bills or pur­chase gifts for the rapidly ap­proach­ing hol­i­day. That said, I sup­port the Cana­dian Union of Postal Work­ers and I’m tired of see­ing so many small busi­ness own­ers speak­ing pub­licly and crit­i­cally of strik­ing and protest­ing postal work­ers, as if they speak for us all.

As I see it, some of the big­gest ad­van­tages of be­ing able to work for your­self or run your own busi­ness is hav­ing con­trol over your work­ing con­di­tions, hav­ing the abil­ity to charge what your work is worth and ad­vo­cate for your­self and your needs as a worker. I feel in­cred­i­bly grate­ful that I’m able to work in this way, and I strongly sup­port any­one who wants to push for these things in their own work. I can’t quite grasp how there are so many state­ments from peo­ple in the same or sim­i­lar po­si­tion as I am, who think that CUPW work­ers don’t de­serve that—to the point that they must pub­licly ex­press out­rage that they are be­ing af­fected by a group of peo­ple who sim­ply want to be phys­i­cally safe on the job, with a sta­ble source of work and fair, eq­ui­table com­pen­sa­tion.

I also strug­gle to un­der­stand why the blame is al­ways placed squarely on the work­ers in this nar­ra­tive. Con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions have been go­ing on for many months, and Canada Post has re­fused to meet the re­quests of its em­ploy­ees. Don’t get me wrong, the strike was a huge in­con­ve­nience to me and is most cer­tainly af­fect­ing my life in a se­ri­ous way. But I blame the cor­po­ra­tion for not budg­ing at a cru­cial time of year for so many peo­ple. I do not blame the peo­ple on the ground who are sim­ply stand­ing up for them­selves at a time when the ab­sence of their work is most no­tice­able—that’s just good strat­egy.

Most peo­ple I know who have started their own busi­nesses, did so be­cause they were tired of hav­ing to op­er­ate within some­one else’s struc­ture and rules. How can we blame the CUPW strik­ers for ques­tion­ing the struc­ture which they op­er­ate within? Not every­one has a priv­i­lege of be­ing able to quit their jobs and do their own thing. It’s risky and dif­fi­cult, and many peo­ple are un­able to take that leap for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. We should sup­port those who are try­ing to work within their sys­tem, to ex­er­cise their right to strike and change their sit­u­a­tion for the bet­ter.

Fi­nally, the back-to-work leg­is­la­tion im­posed on CUPW is ex­tremely up­set­ting to me be­cause I sup­port those work­ers in their fight, and yet con­cern for small busi­ness own­ers like my­self are among those be­ing cited by the gov­ern­ment and me­dia in jus­ti­fy­ing this un­con­sti­tu­tional leg­is­la­tion. Let me be clear—the gov­ern­ment does not speak for me and I re­sent that my in­ter­ests are be­ing as­sumed and used to force non-es­sen­tial work­ers back to work dur­ing what was a man­age­able, ro­tat­ing strike. I en­cour­age other free­lance work­ers and small busi­ness own­ers to speak up, and find ways to sup­port their lo­cal postal work­ers. They’re not ask­ing for any­thing we don’t al­ready have in spades and it’s be­cause they make our liveli­hoods pos­si­ble that we should be help­ing them get what they need.

Heather Grant is a self-em­ployed com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant and graphic de­signer in Hal­i­fax. She pri­mar­ily works with en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and coali­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.