Christ­mas co­nun­drum

Tri-County Vanguard - - OPINION -

Novem­ber is com­ing to a mer­ci­ful end. For many At­lantic Cana­di­ans, Dec. 1 launches the of­fi­cial count­down to the fes­tive hol­i­day pe­riod. It’s a re­minder to get that Christ­mas card sent to Aunt Mary or that spe­cial gift mailed to Mom and Dad.

But those es­sen­tial hol­i­day er­rands are fac­ing po­ten­tial road­blocks.

Five weeks of ro­tat­ing strikes by Canada Post’s 50,000 em­ploy­ees have caused de­lays in ser­vice. The dis­rup­tions couldn’t have come at a more in­op­por­tune time — which is per­haps the point.

Busi­nesses that de­pend on the Crown cor­po­ra­tion at their busiest time of the year are wor­ried.

Canada Post now makes most of its money de­liv­er­ing goods bought on­line and the next month is cru­cial for its prof­itabil­ity. Al­though there are other mes­sages and rea­sons sur­round­ing the sea­son, for many, noth­ing says Christ­mas like gift pack­ages. At any other time of the year a postal strike might be viewed as an in­con­ve­nience. But it’s Christ­mas. The dy­nam­ics have changed.

The clam­our is such that the fed­eral govern­ment said last week it in­tended to in­tro­duce back-to-work leg­is­la­tion.

It should be noted that postal work­ers won a le­gal bat­tle re­sult­ing from a pre­vi­ous labour dis­pute in 2011, when the Stephen Harper Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment locked out work­ers and passed back-to-work leg­is­la­tion. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2016 that ro­tat­ing strikes were a fair bar­gain­ing tac­tic be­cause there was no full work stop­page, and that such leg­is­la­tion vi­o­lated work­ers’ con­sti­tu­tional rights.

Yes, we should be more con­cerned with the un­der­ly­ing is­sues of this labour dis­pute, and sup­port col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing as an es­sen­tial right for Cana­di­ans.

But the root causes of postal dis­rup­tions tend to get pushed to the back­ground at this time of year. We want to mail our parcels and cards with­out en­coun­ter­ing picket lines or locked doors and have as­sur­ances they will ar­rive in time for Christ­mas.

The fed­eral govern­ment has tried to tip­toe around this labour strife. Last Wed­nes­day, Ot­tawa gave the 48 hours’ no­tice re­quired be­fore in­tro­duc­ing backto-work leg­is­la­tion. The same day, it reap­pointed a me­di­a­tor in re­sponse to a re­quest from postal work­ers af­ter the union re­jected a cool­ing-off pe­riod.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has pleaded with both sides to re­sume talks, since a leg­isla­tive op­tion seemed on shaky le­gal grounds.

But amid the un­cer­tainty there are some sil­ver lin­ings for many busi­nesses. In­stead of solely shop­ping on­line, Cana­di­ans might be per­suaded to buy lo­cal. Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day sales in Canada, con­nected to the U.S. Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day, were neg­a­tively af­fected. That’s good news for lo­cal re­tail­ers who don’t sell their prod­ucts on­line.

And for those lo­cal busi­nesses that rely solely on on­line ser­vices, take a chance on them. We’re sure they ap­pre­ci­ate that you not only want their prod­ucts, but you want to sup­port them in a sit­u­a­tion that is be­yond their con­trol.

And yes, old age se­cu­rity and pen­sion cheques will be de­liv­ered to en­sure a merry Christ­mas for se­niors.

And Canada Post still plans to de­liver let­ters to Santa be­cause nei­ther snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night — nor ro­tat­ing strikes — can stop Christ­mas from com­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.