Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canada Post - Strike Update


Canada Post - Strike Update



Well, I've held off on blogging about the Canada Post strike but now I have no choice but to comment on the issue as it will literally bring my online shop to a standstill.

Canada Post has officially begun a lock-out and I don't blame them.  I have read the Union's arguments on the CUPW website, followed the online articles, videos and kept up with the lady in my local post office.  After all of this, I have to say, I have no sympathy for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

On the Treasure Trunk Designs facebook page, I've posted a few articles for my fans and expressed a some of my thoughts.  While many of my fans seem to agree with my point of view, I did lose  2 TTD fans who were sympathetic to the CUPW and felt I had no purpose expressing my thoughts on the TTD facebook page.  I disagree...

Last year, for financial reasons, I had no choice but to take a break from my university studies and re-enter the workforce. I am finishing off my university studies and having tried to work while studying, it's been difficult and has severely affected my progress in terms of my thesis.  I'm a very hard worker and tend to devote everything I have to what ever it is I am doing.  This is difficult - how to find balance when someone is paying you good money to do a job while at the same time be able to give 110% to your studies?  My jobs were intense, required creativity, time, constant learning.  I had deadlines to meet that went beyond the simple 9 - 5 pay check that I was earning.  Nevertheless, both contracts that I worked last year were WORTH the extra time and effort that I devoted to them.  It's hard to find a good job nowadays.  I was thankful for my 1st contract with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.  When I was then offered a contract with the United Nations Refugee Association of Canada it was yet another amazing opportunity that couldn't be refused.  I worked my tail off for them.  I got paid good money while I was there, I learned a lot, I gave them all that I had to give and I was THANKFUL.


While I am finishing off my studies, I have no money to play with, I don't go to the local pub, I don't eat out, I don't visit my friends as I can't afford to spend the money on gas.  I'm living in a small village under my parents roof during this time.  With no money to pay for necessities, I use my hobby as my only means of income.  It doesn't bring in a lot of money but it helps pass the time and provide me with a little extra cash to pay for trips to town to meet with my academic advisor and help ease the burden of tuition costs.
Now, I'm taking the time to focus on my studies.  If I want to graduate, I need to do this or I will miss the deadline and everything I've worked so hard for will turn to nothing. 

With almost 3 university degrees and 10 years of experience in communications, neither of these 2 contracts in 2010 paid me the money that CUPS workers currently start out with. 

With the HRSDC contract I didn't have vacation time, stability or sick leave.  In fact, if I was sick and couldn't go in to work, that meant that I didn't get paid.  So - come hell or high water - I hauled ass to that office day in and day out, sick or not.  With UNHCR, I had some vacation time, they let me take sick days when I was too ill to come to work but still it was just a contract and there was no 'stability' to speak of.  In fact, "stability" in the Canadian job market seems to be going the way of the dinosaur.  Nevertheless, I was SO happy and thankful for the opportunity to work, be paid, learn and gain experience.  

Getting a stable job with vacation time, health insurance and sick leave is NOT easy.  Finding a job that provides all of this and pays a decent salary is even harder.  As I mentioned, “stable jobs” are going the way of the dinosaur.  Why would a company hire on permanent staff - knowing they have to provide all of the benefits and risk keeping on staff when they are not efficient or when business slows down – when they can easily hire workers through a temp agency?  If they use a temp agency, the company can hire or fire easily.  They don’t have to worry about benefits, keeping up full-time salaries or worrying about lawsuits or severance packages when they decide to let go staff.  It’s a business decision.  It sucks for the worker but it is what it is.  From the big business perspective… everyone is replaceable. 

Now let’s move back to Canada Post workers.  What qualifications did you need to get this job?  Did you need a diploma?  Did you need a university degree?  Did you need to have 5 to 10 years of experience to apply for the job you have?  In many cases, the answer is “No”. 

So tell me CUPW representatives, how many jobs out there do you think exist that pay $23 / hour requiring little previous experience and no college or university education?  How many jobs out there provide up to SEVEN weeks vacation and carry-over sick leave?  How many jobs out there provide stability, health insurance and a pension plan?  And finally, how many jobs out there will YOU be eligible for? 

I’m not saying that things are perfect over at Canada Post. I’m not saying that there are not problems in management, potential bullying or issues with harrassment.  I’m not saying that a “monkey could do your job”.  No, I’m not saying any of that.  I know there are CP workers who bust ass and appreciate their job and the value they bring to Canada Post.  But it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.   

If you want the Canadian public to sympathize with your needs, be REALISTIC.  Don’t fight to maintain 7 weeks vacation, carry over sick days and an average starting salary of $23 / hour.  From what I read on the CUWP and the Canada Post site, as well as online articles, videos, interviews and such, these are some of the main sticking points.  The rest is vague fluff that is not described in detail. 

Realize that Canada Post – like the rest of the Canadian economy – is facing tough economic times.  Realize that more and more Canadians are relying on the internet to pay bills, place orders, send personal mail, read magazines, donate to charities et cetera…  Canada Post revenue is dropping fast.  With the strike, it has plummeted. 

If Canada Post is to survive - like any other business - it must change, it must grow, it must adjust. 

How can CUPW representatives honestly believe that Canada Post can keep up that level of salary, benefits and vacation time with new hires?  Moreover, why should they?  Go out and start looking for a job – let me know when you find one that gives you the salary, benefits, vacation time and stability that you have in your current contracts. Truly, let me know!  I might just want to apply myself! 

In the meantime CUPW representatives, think twice when asking the Canadian public to empathize with your demands.  Small businesses – like mine – are already struggling.  Now, as a predominantly online business, my orders are at a standstill.  I have, and will continue, to lose money because of the strike.  In fact, without Canada Post, I have NO business. 

Before the strike, as a small online business, I struggled to compete with American businesses able to ship to Canada for a fraction of the cost that my CANADIAN business could ship within my own country.  Sure you say that the United States is bigger and has more business so they can afford to charge lesser rates.  But how does that apply once American products cross the border into Canada?  Is it not Canada Post that takes these orders, processes them and ships them throughout our fair nation?  Do they not travel the same distance once they reach the border as my items do?  So why is it that Americans pay less to ship within Canada than Canadians do?  There is no rhyme or reason to this logic.  In the meantime, small online Canadian artisans and businesses struggle to compete with a pricing system that holds no logic and that we can not win. 

Now – with the strike – consumer confidence is lowered.  Sellers are forced to seek private courier services to get their products from A to B.  That means even greater costs to our clients.  Do you think they will continue to buy Canadian when they can pay significantly less by buying through the United States?  Do you think the average Canadian consumer has that much spare income to spend that they don’t care about the final cost?  Do you think the average Canadian consumer can afford this?  Wake up CUPW representatives… WAKE UP!

With each day that you have been on strike, Canada Post has lost revenue AND consumer confidence.  How will Canada Post regain the trust and confidence of the Canadian public after this?  Do you think it will be easy?  Keep dreaming… 

The more this strike continues, the deeper the strain will be on Canada Post to maintain their business.  The harder it is to keep Canada Post relevant and needed by Canadians, the harder it will be for Canada Post to survive as it exists today.  Do I need to state the obvious here?  If Canada Post can not compete, then CUPW will lose more than a week’s vacation, carry-over sick days and a few dollars off the hourly wage for new hires.  Let’s make this simple – CUPW will not have a job to come back to.  It’s only a matter of time… 

Will you ask for sympathy then CUPW?  As small Canadian businesses are reeling from the impact of the strike on THEIR businesses, as pension and social security cheques are stuck in the warehouses undelivered, as the infirm no longer have access to perscriptions that arrive by mail, as charities are forced to give up mail-out appeals (their largest and most productive means of obtaining donations)… with all of these repercussions and more… will you ask the Canadian public to fight for you? 

I, for one, will not fight for you.  Look around… in the past few years SO many people have had to reduce their work week, accept lower salaries and do the job of two or three people in order to maintain their jobs in a struggling economy.  If you chose to fight, then fight for things that are justified.  Fight for things that make sense in the current economic climate.  Don’t fight for 7 weeks vacation when the average Canadian is hardly getting 2 weeks (and none if they are contract workers!)  Don’t fight for carry over sick days from one year to the next.  Don’t fight for new hires to get the same wage that you got in the past because that’s what that was – the past. 

Be happy that you have a job, be happy that you have benefits and a salary that many Canadians can only dream of.  Be happy that you might have gotten that job without having to pay for a college or university education.  Realize that you were – and still are – ahead of the game EVEN with the cutbacks suggested by Canada Post. 

This strike has hurt the Canadian public, it has hurt Canada Post and more than anything – it will hurt the people who work there - that's right CUPW representatives, I believe this strike will end up hurting the very people you claim to represent and protect.  In the grand scheme of things, the reputation of Canada Post workers have plummeted in the eyes of the Canadian people; trust in Canada Post has done the same.  The less Canadians trust and rely on Canada Post, the less chance Canada Postal Workers will have a job in the times to come. 

On the flipside, I suppose at that point, you will have all the vacation time you want… good luck paying for it though!

- Tara, Treasure Trunk Designs
Diva on a Dime?


 

2 comments:

  1. Very nice. Totally agreed with you. Should end the strike asap.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you agree. Thanks for commenting. I've gotten a lot of flack on twitter from this but until the union susses out the bully part (instead of fluff) and realizes that this is happening all around in Canada - then my views stand. Not sure how I feel about the gov't stepping in - but it is a Crown Corp and, as far as I'm concerened - essential to the Canadian economy. If CP and CUPW can't sort it out - then somebody has to step in I guess!

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