- Heather Grant is a self-employed communications consultant and graphic designer in Halifax. She primarily works with environmental organizations and coalitions.
In following the progression of the Canada Post strike, I’ve seen nothing but headlines focused on the small business owners who are suffering, the freelancers who are not receiving their cheques, the families whose “Christmases are being held
As I see it, some of the biggest advantages of being able to work for yourself or run your own business is having control over your working conditions, having the ability to charge what your work is worth and advocate for yourself and your needs as a worker. I feel incredibly grateful that I’m able to work in this way, and I strongly support anyone who wants to push for these things in their own work. I can’t quite grasp how there are so many statements from people in the same or similar position as I am, who think that CUPW workers don’t deserve that—to the point that they must publicly express outrage that they are being affected by a group of people who simply want to be physically safe on the job, with a stable source of work and fair, equitable compensation.
I also struggle to understand why the blame is always placed squarely on the workers in this narrative. Contract negotiations have been going on for many months, and Canada Post has refused to meet the requests of its employees. Don’t get me wrong, the strike was a huge inconvenience to me and is most certainly affecting my life in a serious way. But I blame the corporation for not budging at a crucial time of year for so many people. I do not blame the people on the ground who are simply standing up for themselves at a time when the absence of their work is most noticeable—that’s just good strategy.
Most people I know who have started their own businesses, did so because they were tired of having to operate within someone else’s structure and rules. How can we blame the CUPW strikers for questioning the structure which they operate within? Not everyone has the privilege of being able to quit their jobs and do their own thing. It’s risky and difficult, and many people are unable to take that leap for a variety of reasons. We should support those who are trying to work within their system, to exercise their right to strike and change their situation for the better.
Finally, the back-to-work legislation imposed on CUPW is extremely upsetting to me because I support those workers in their fight, and yet