The New Media Eye | by Nick Paonessa



Canada Post Wants to Go on Strike? REALLY?!!

There would be nothing like a Canada Post strike to expose its irrelevance.

As of the posting of this blog article, the union representing Canada Post workers and Canada Post management had not come to an agreement Winnipeg workers already started the first of a series of rotating 24 hour strikes. Which begs the simple question, REALLY?

Canada Post says mail volumes have dropped more than 17 per cent since 2006 and the corporation is intent on addressing labour costs. The union says a key sticking point is sick leave for employees and safety. While I can appreciate that these are valid concerns in any business, I think the union bosses can’t see the forest for the trees. If you take a step back and look at this thing from 1000ft up, this strike will put the final nail in Canada Post’s coffin making the Crown Corporation irrelevant before it gets a chance to come up with a new business model.

It’s obvious that the Internet, email and on-line payment methods have completely changed the role of the Post office in society.  But the same can be said for hundreds of industries. Look at what the photography industry looked like 15 to 20 years ago. Well Canada Post is at the same crossroads and it has to decide if it’s going to be like Kodak and turn the corner and evolve into a 21st century company or if it’s going to be Polaroid and cling to the old business model until it’s too late.

Currently, I send 25% of my invoices electronically. I receive about 30% of payments electronically.  I get about 50% of my bills electronically and pay 95% of them electronically. I can count on 1 hand how many cheques my business writes and mails out in a year. Payroll, payroll deductions, tax submissions are all done electronically. If I really wanted to, I could do ALL of this electronically. 100%. I’m just lazy. Rogers, 407ETR, Purolator, all snail mail me paper bills. But all of these vendors offer me the option of paperless billing. In fact they are all pushing for it. I keep getting them by snail mail because, for the outrageous fees they charge me, the least they can do is slap a 53 cent stamp on an envelope and mail me an invoice.

So what has this strike or even t he threat of strike done? It’s made me look at the remaining amount of business I do by mail and see how I can convert it to the more efficient e-methods.  Canada Post has a golden opportunity here. While many businesses like mine are either too lazy or not savvy enough to go paperless and while the banks are scrambling to create an easy and secure standard for which business to business can transfer funds electronically, Canada Post has an small window of opportunity to create a new business model in this e-based world. I realize that there are very good methods of transferring money right now.  But there isn’t a standard, it’s not that simple or obvious and the banks, as greedy as they are, are charging ridiculous fees for these transactions. By striking, they are forcing companies to figure out alternate ways to exchange funds with customers that does not include the mail. This dramatically reduces the window of opportunity they have to re-invent themselves.

I want Canada Post to survive. I think it’s played an important role in Canada’s history and can also play a role in its future. But, while I believe sick leave and safety are very valid negotiating points, it will be meaningless if the fight to get those things, is the very thing that kills them.

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