Potential strike worries small business owner

Union in strike position at midnight on Thursday

News that a postal strike could happen as soon as midnight Thursday has local small business owners  concerned.

On Monday, the union representing Canada Post’s urban workers served the Crown corporation with a 72-hour notice that could see a strike begin this week if a deal is not reached between the two sides.

Royce Schmidt, owner of Glacier Wind Promotional Products in Montrose, said his business relies on Canada Post for marketing purposes. If the strike goes through, his Canada-wide business will be significantly affected.

“Without the mail it just crushes me because there’s no other way to reach your audience, a lot of people are offended by fax or e-mail so you’re really only left with mail.”

For Schmidt, the worst-case scenario is a drop in his sales.

“There are lots of us here who rely on the mail, some more than others. I depend on it for the marketing aspect; others use it for the shipping aspect.

“It’s detrimental ­­– if you’re mailing small packages to rural Canada, Canada Post can’t be beat price-wise. There are other options for getting the stuff there but you have to take a big hit financially.”

Schmidt said using couriers is out of the question unless he’s delivering products because the cost is too high.

FedEx also uses Canada Post as a sub-agent, which would eliminate their services as an option and for him there really is no other alternative to Canada Post.

“It’s tough when there are no alternatives. I mean, Canada Post has a monopoly and when other businesses go on strike sometimes it doesn’t have the impact Canada Post has … There’re lots of people who will be affected.”

According to Elections BC, the mail-in HST referendum ballots could be delayed by the strike. Larger companies like FortisBC have taken measures to ensure that clients have several options in place to keep their accounts up to date.

“We’re watching this just like everyone else,” said Neal Pobran, corporate communications manager for FortisBC.

“What we’re suggesting for our customers is e-billing and ‘Account Online’ (the gas equivalent) so then they can really get all the information they need online.”

FortisBC’s website lists options for payments should a strike take place, including direct debit, internet and phone banking and payments made at banking institutions.

According to John Caines, manager of national media relations for Canada Post, the branches in Trail, Rossland and Fruitvale employ 41 people collectively, 23 of those union members.

“We have an offer on the table that we think will ensure that the employees are better off than they are today and hopefully that will be the basis of a new agreement,” he said.

The union and Canada Post have been in talks for more than seven months but have been unable to reach an agreement.