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    Retail Council of Canada Calls on Government to End Postal Strikes as Canada Enters Crucial Holiday Shopping Period

    November 18, 2018

    In a letter sent today to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (see below), Retail Council of Canada (RCC) called upon the Government of Canada to use its legislative powers to bring an end to strikes at Canada Post.

    - The strikes are entering their fifth week with no end in sight, a refusal by CUPW to present management's proposal to members and a withdrawal by Canada Post Corporation of its latest offer at midnight Saturday.
    - Backlogs are building, just as parcel volumes are poised to jump by 50 per cent or more with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday shopping.
    - The one-two punch of backlogs and rapidly rising volumes puts at risk the year's most important shopping period for consumers and retailers alike.

    "There is a point at which it becomes clear that labour negotiations are at an impasse. We have reached that point, just as we arrive at a critical period for holiday shopping", said Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada. "If we are going to save the holiday shopping season and ensure that Canadians don't end up with a lump of coal, the Government of Canada needs to step in and end these strikes."

    Letter Sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

    November 18, 2018

    Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, PC, MP
    Prime Minister
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A3

    Prime Minister,

    I am writing on behalf of Canada's retail industry to call upon the Government of Canada to bring an immediate end to the strikes at Canada Post, which directly impact the consumers we serve. Just as retail merchants, our workforce of two million and our customers enter the busiest time of year, the postal system is grinding to a near-halt.

    Our industry has watched with growing concern as the strikes drag on into their fifth week next week, with no end in sight. While all businesses feel the impact of interrupted letter mail, consumers and the retail industry bear by far the greatest impact of interrupted parcel service.

    The tipping-point for our members has arrived this weekend with CUPW's refusal to put Canada Post Corporation's latest offer to a vote and with the expiry of that offer at Midnight tonight. Despite assurances that "the parties remain at the table" and the appointment of a new mediator last month, there has been no progress to date and no prospect of any that we can discern.

    Impact Thus Far
    Canada Post has already publicly reported a backlog of thirty days with 600 trailers waiting to be unloaded and that backlog is mounting quickly even under the usual flow of e-commerce parcels. The situation has also prompted Canada Post to deter delivery of international postal shipments.

    The situation threatens to deteriorate rapidly over the next few days and weeks. You will likely be aware that more than 25% of annual parcel shipments are sent during the two-month holiday seasoni and the majority of those within the three-week period following Black Friday, falling this year on November 23. A parcel flow that is already more than the system can handle is about to more than double in only a few days' time. This is not simply a matter of a few days' delay, itself a major source of concern in e-commerce, the fastest growing channel for shoppers.

    Impact on Consumers
    Canadians can no longer rely upon our nation's postal service to deliver the goods that they need. 62 million+ packages are sent during the holiday season, the majority of which represent gifts to family and friends. Black Friday/Cyber Monday period has also become by far the most important period of the year for Canadians buying other goods that they require, from Winter clothing to appliances. This disruption and service failure to Canadians is our greatest concern. Help us save the holidays for Canadian consumers.

    Impact on Businesses
    We are already seeing swelling inventories, growing aversion to online purchases, and basket abandonment when customers realize that the shipping method would be via Canada Post. Alternative delivery services through couriers have nowhere near the capacity to handle the volumes that are moved by Canada Post.

    Looking at the longer term, we are concerned about the potential consequences for e-commerce in Canada. The Canadian Government has been vocal in encouraging retail merchants to grow their online presence, making our industry more competitive and bringing significant investments in technology, distribution centres and high wage jobs in IT and design. If Canadians cannot have confidence that ecommerce is a reliable system, we are concerned that many will turn away from online shopping at precisely the moment when our systems are reaching viability.

    Call to Action
    On October 29, we wrote to Ministers Qualtrough and Hadju, noting our understanding that labour negotiations are complicated balancing acts. At that point, we expressed our hope that both parties would continue to negotiate, and jointly reach a solution that meets everyone's needs. We warned however, that there are times during labour disputes where parties reach an impasse, and that should such a situation arise with Canada Post, the Federal Government should consider all the tools at its disposal, including back-to-work legislation.

    With CUPW's refusal to put Canada Post's offer to a vote and with the expiry of that offer tonight, in the context of an already heavily-backlogged system and with parcel flows about to double, we believe that that point has been reached. Accordingly, we call upon the government to exercise its legislative powers to bring the strikes to an end.

    Regards,

    Diane J. Brisebois
    President & CEO

    Cc: Hon. Carla Qualtrough, PC, MP
    Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada, K1A 0A6

    Hon. Patricia Hajdu, PC, MP
    Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada, K1A 0A6

    Hon. Mary Ng, PC, MP
    Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada, K1A 0A6
    ------------------------

    In 2017, Canada Post shipped a total of 242 million parcels. Between November 5th, 2017 and January 14th, 2018, Canada Post delivered 62 million parcels. Source: Statistics Canada

    About Retail Council of Canada
    Retail is Canada's largest employer with 2.1 million Canadians working in our industry. The sector annually generates over $76 billion in wages and employee benefits. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were $369 billion in 2017. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association that represents small, medium and large retail businesses in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants. RetailCouncil.org

    Retail Council of Canada

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