Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Postal Strike, Who Cares?

Public sector unions tend to be out of touch with reality, but CUPW takes the cake with their strike against Canada Post.   It is 2011 and there is no compelling reason for the government to own Canada post any longer, a postal strike is simply going to convince the public that privatizing Canada Post is not an issue.   Frankly, it is in the public interest to sell Canada Post as soon as possible while it still has some value.   The sale would finally give CUPW an introduction to the modern world.

The strike is only going annoy people in the country and not make people sympathetic to the plight of the workers.   CUPW has a long history of being militant and punishing the public through strikes directed at the general public.

Canada went through seven of postal strikes in 16 years for a total of more than 131 days

  • 1965 - a 16 day illegal strike
  • 1968 - a 22 day strike July to August
  • 1970 - a series of walkouts
  • 1974 - a one week illegal strike in April - done to oppose 
  • 1975 - a 43 day strike from late October to early December
  • 1978 - a one day strike in October, the workers were legislated back to work immediately
  • 1981 - a 42 day strike from June 30th to August 12th

The 1981 strike is the only one I remember, I had subscribed to a 'zine and wrote a few short pieces for it. I did not see issues for quite a while.   I was 15 and it was not a big deal for me.  

For my sister the impact may have been life changing.   She had applied to go to law school and did not get notice of her acceptance till more than half way through August that she had a spot at UVic.   She was living in Vancouver and could not change her life quickly enough to go.   She still ended up in the judicial system, she manages the courts in Kelowna.

We next saw a strike in 1997 for 16 days, Parliament legislated them back to work.   In 1997 Canada Post was still important to most people.    The internet was not yet an option for most things.  

Now we come to 2011 and the postal workers are going out on strike, again.   I will not be getting any mail today, but that is not going to be a huge issue.   Yes, some of my subscriptions may be late, but such is life, no big deal.  All of our bills are available online.   I have not mailed an invoice in years, they all go out by email.   Payments can go directly into my account.  

CUPW is playing with fire.   There is no reason the government could not sell Canada Post at the moment.   The trend globally is for governments to end the monopolies of postal services.    A number of countries are considering selling their post company, the leader of the pack being the United Kingdom.   With a majority in Ottawa, there is really no reason the government could not take the plunge and end the monopoly and sell off Canada Post.  

Certainly the irrational militancy of CUPW is not going to win them any love among the MPs or the public.   The longer they continue the strike activity, the easier it will become to sell off Canada Post.

If CUPW were smart, they would only stop mail that are payments of money to the government and any mail leaving the parliament.   These actions would not cause a problem for the public, only for government.

The reality is that the concept of a national postal service that delivers mail is going to cease to exist within a couple of years.   Money will all go directly into accounts, documents will all be available online to sign, and no company will offer paper bills.  The only to the door delivery is going to be parcels and that is already done well by a numerous private companies.

Keep in mind that one of the single most important source of income for Canada Post is junkmail, either that stuff without an address or the stuff with your name on it.   The end of Canada Post will reduce the amount of junkmail.   As someone that has tried to get Canada Post to stop giving me junkmail, the end to hat alone is a good argument for selling off the company.   No private company would be so dismissive of the public opinion as Canada Post has been about junkmail.

If CUPW wanted to get sympathy from the public they would refuse to move any junkmail, addressed or unaddressed.  A strike action like that I could get behind and laud.

CUPW has to understand that the sale of Canada Post to the private sector and the end of the monopoly is the coming, if it is done soon the company will have more value than in the future.   Within ten to twenty years the government will not be able to get anything for Canada Post and may just have to shut it down.   Getting something for a redundant government asset is the only action in the public interest at the moment.  CUPW should be pushing for how Canada Post will be sold off and support a sale as part of the current negotiations.
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