Canada Postal Union Strike Expected
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has officially given a 72-hour strike notice. The strike could begin as early as 11:59 EDT on Thursday, June 2 if the union’s demands are not met by Canada Post.
As the strong possibility of a strike looms, Canadian small business owners have begun evaluating other shipping options.
The convenience and expanse of the internet makes physical bill and letter delivery admittedly expendable. And those who need to ship parcels have other options, including FedEx and Canadian courier Purolator. But for small businesses, sending things off through independent couriers could be an expensive inconvenience.
“I just placed a shipment and I’m already very worried I won’t be getting it,” Helena Lee, Co-owner of Sudbury’s Grandmother’s Pie Shoppe told the Sudbury Star. “(Using FedEx or Purolator) can be more costly and time consuming.”
If the union decides to strike, Canada will be faced with its first nationwide postal strike since 1997.
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Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, threatened to strike after the union rejected Canada Post’s final offer. After meeting with Canada Post officials Monday morning, Lemelin and the CUPW stood their ground, insisting that striking is the union’s only option.
The rejected offer made by Canada Post includes an annual wage increase to a maximum of $26 per hour and up to seven weeks of vacation.
Both sides of the wage disagreement have expressed an unwillingness to budge, but Lemelin did say that the union is willing to negotiate “right up to the strike deadline."
Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier said that the agency intends to continue working on a solution as well.
“We’ll work until the eleventh minute if we need to. We’ll go as long as the union will come to the table and work with us,” Losier said. “We’re still offering them a pay increase…we’re offering them a better contract than they have today.”
Losier also stressed the importance of regular mail delivery throughout Canada.
“Your communities are probably going to be the ones that are most impacted by a strike,” Losier said. “Just sheer Internet access—not everybody has it. [In] most of the northern and rural communities, we’re the only ones who are delivering to every single household. We’re the ones who deliver for those major private companies outside of the urban areas.”
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, beyond the boundaries mass movement of goods from A-B. The logistics company says the exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its experimentation in new autonomy solutions, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.