Rotating Canada Post strikes in four cities could leave small businesses in the lurch just as the holiday season is approaching, according to a small business group.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses said although rotating strikes are better for businesses than all-out job action, many smaller companies still rely on paper to get work done.
“While many Canadians have become less reliant on the mail, it is still an important service for smaller businesses, who use Canada Post for shipping goods, sending invoices and receiving payments, especially from other businesses,” said president Dan Kelly.
“The bad news for Canada Post workers is that every time they even threaten a strike, more small business customers move to use alternatives, many never returning to Canada Post.”
Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Windsor and Halifax on Monday after months of negotiations. The union said mail will be delivered, but delayed.
According to the federation, more than half of small businesses pay each other by cheque and almost two-thirds send more than 20 pieces of mail per month.
The group said the union’s demands were unreasonable, given Canada Post’s multi-billion pension deficit.
“It’s time for Canada Post to bring its spending under control instead of handing growing costs on to consumers and businesses who are already facing postal rate hikes in January,” said Kelly.
“We’re looking to both sides to be reasonable and come to a quick compromise.”
The union said workers were striking for job security, an end to forced overtime, better health and safety measures and service expansion and equality for rural and suburban mail carriers.
In a statement to Black Press Media, Canada Post said it “remains committed to the bargaining process and has a significant offer on the table that includes increased wages, job security, improved benefits and contains no concessions.”
The company warned that customers could see “minor delays” as a result of the rotating strikes.