Christ­mas un­cer­tainty

Valley Journal Advertiser - - OPINION -

The dreary month of Novem­ber is quickly com­ing to a mer­ci­ful end. For many At­lantic Cana­di­ans, Dec. 1 launches the of­fi­cial count­down to the fes­tive hol­i­day pe­riod. It’s a re­minder that we must get that Christ­mas card sent to Aunt Mary and that spe­cial gift mailed to mom and dad.

Such es­sen­tial hol­i­day du­ties face po­ten­tial an­noy­ing 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. Busi­nesses that de­pend heav­ily on the crown cor­po­ra­tion at their busiest time of the year are wor­ried and an­gry.

Canada Post now makes most of its money de­liv­er­ing parcels bought on the in­ter­net and the next month is cru­cial for its prof­itabil­ity. And 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 has pro­vided no­tice that it in­tends 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 pre­vi­ous Harper 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 be more sup­port­ive of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing as an es­sen­tial right for Cana­di­ans. But root causes of postal dis­rup­tions are 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 is try­ing its best to tip­toe around this labour strife. Wed­nes­day, Ot­tawa gave the 48-hour’s no­tice re­quired be­fore in­tro­duc­ing back-to-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 seems on shaky le­gal grounds. Maybe it will be enough to reach a deal.

There are some sil­ver lin­ings. The un­cer­tainty about on­line shop­ping should con­vince Cana­di­ans to buy in per­son at their lo­cal home­town At­lantic re­tail­ers. Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day sales in Canada, con­nected to the U.S. Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day, have al­ready been neg­a­tively im­pacted. That’s more good news for lo­cal re­tail­ers.

And, oh yes, old age se­cu­rity and pen­sion cheques will be de­liv­ered to en­sure a merry Christ­mas for our se­niors. And Canada Post is still plan­ning to de­liver let­ters to Santa be­cause nei­ther snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night — nor ro­tat­ing strikes — stays these couri­ers from the swift com­ple­tion of their ap­pointed rounds of get­ting let­ters to Santa de­liv­ered to chil­dren at Christ­mas­time.

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