The postal strike in Canada is now about two weeks old with apparently no end in sight as union and management remain far apart on key wage and pension issues.
I have vague memories of a postal strike in Britain which lasted almost two months in 1971.
At that time, about 200,000 postal employees walked off the job in January of that year after demanding a pay increase of something like 13 percent (after being offered an 8 percent hike by management).
The seven-week strike was believed to have the cost the Royal Mail about 25-million pounds in lost revenues (while costing postal workers about 150-pounds in lost revenue).
Ultimately, the union caved in because it couldn’t afford to continue making hardship payments to the thousands of members who had no income whatsoever.
The boss of the union, a man named Tommy Jackson, later told reporters: If we had had more money, the strike would have gone on. Facing the reality, this is the best way out of a bad position.
After the strike was over, it took another month for all the backlogged mail to be cleared – so, in a practical sense, the UK strike actually lasted more than three months.
A postal strike was much more devastating to the average person in 1971 than 2011, since there was no internet and no other way to pay bills or receive checks.
It will be interesting to see how damaging the Canadian strike will be, given that the mail business has been in steep decline for several years.