Friday, June 3, 2011

Posties walk off the job in Winnipeg

Posties walk off the job in Winnipeg | Winnipeg | News | Winnipeg Sun

The strike began in Winnipeg because that's where Canada Post began its modernization program with high-tech mail processing systems.

The union blames Canada Post's modernization program for health and safety problems and has made sick leave a major issue in the negotiations.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a discussion about unions with my uncle. For years, he was highly placed in Health administration, not to mention at Ipsco (which he described as having the toughest union in North America), and as such, I assumed that he didn't look very favourably on unions. I got schooled on that day, and listened to his arguments, but one of my counter arguments was that unions get in the way of businesses doing what they need to do to survive.

Nowhere is that more evident than with Canada Post. To specifically point out that they are starting a strike in the heart of Post's modernization program speaks volumes to the true motivation of the workers and the union in this negotiation. The fact that CUPW won't go out on general strike also speaks volumes about what they think their chances will be to get a satisfactory resolution from Canada Post.

From their point of view, I get it. They see Canada Post becoming less and less viable as email, electronic services and the internet begin to take over the market place, giving customers instantaneous service virtually free as internet has become commonplace in the home. They see this and they're scared as heck, and really, who can blame them? Will it be too far off where people can willingly opt out of a mailing address due to the decreasing use of "snail mail"? Personally, I only check my mailbox every week or so, and of the mail that is actually useful to me, most of it goes unopened as I can already access the information on the internet. Few of the packages I receive through the mail can't be received via courier - whether it's DHL, Loomis, Purolator, FedEx or the like.

I get that by CUPW doing a general strike, they run the risk of the public finding out just how irrelevant Canada Post actually is. This puts the union in a much worse bargaining position both now and in the future, and forces them to accept much less than they would otherwise accept. This is the failure of the union - that no matter how benevolent the union can be, they can't get blood from a stone. If the company or the management can't afford what is being asked for, the union can strike all they want but they won't get it.

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