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The sounds of another icon turning to dust

10/09/2009

Think of Britain and what do you see? Rolling fields, rain, warm beer, cricket. And how about postal boxes. The red ones. An archetypal image of Britain. A symbol of this sceptered isle.

Not for long. Not if the Communication Workers Union has anything to do with it. Yesterday they voted by 3:1 in favour of industrial action. This on the back of several localised strikes that have led to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of letters being destroyed, lost or otherwise delayed.
Why are they striking? Because they say that management are “modernising too quickly”.
The Royal Mail is already significantly less efficient than other mail providers and these days, businesses have the choice of who they use. Two of the big commercial users of the Royal Mail (Amazon and Argos) have already said they are putting in place alternative arrangements. What are the chances that they will come back post industrial action?
Joe Public, for the moment, does not have a choice of who it uses as mail provider (although the use of email must surely be another nail in the coffin). Combined with stories like this one. And the likelihood of a Tory government. How long before we start to hear the cries for the opening up of domestic postal services to competition?
Just like the Miners in the 1980’s, the postal workers are bringing on the demise of the Royal Mail as we know it. Take pictures of those post boxes when you see them guys. Because soon, they’ll be adorning novelty pubs and peoples back yards. And no longer a fixture on every street.
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ministry of truth permalink
    10/13/2009 13:12

    Hmmm I think you are a little confused here boyo.

    It was Thatcher and subsequently Major who closed the mines. Had the miners won they would have kept more mines open and we wouldn't have rocketing energy prices and discussions about fuel security. Probably the whole shape of modern Britain would have been different too. Less HR experts for a start, but I am wandering into my own personal fantasy there.

    The similarity with the post "modernisation" is that the proposals are really about ripping the guts out of an institution that serves us well and allowing people to make more profits out of it at the cost of the workers and the service users. As someone who in their work uses couriers such as TNT regularly, we will soon miss the post as it was. We have already lost the second post. I look forward to your comments when you get your modernised post office. Remember how we used to moan about British Rail until they privatised it? Still I'm sure my massively more expensive rail travel pays for more HR experts.

    The posties are fighting to defend a publicly owned, democratically controlled post office, where you have a chance of get your post the next day for under 40p and you have a chance of knowing your postie, rather than having some agency worker who will leave your letters in a dustbin 8 miles away.

    Victory to the postal workers!

  2. HRD permalink
    10/14/2009 10:54

    @Ministry of Truth – Or should it be "Ministry of hopeless idealism"? My point is not that we shouldn't have public ownership – not at all. My point is that the strike will prove counter productive (as it did in the case of the miners). It doesn't have broad public support and in addition will provide an incoming Tory Government with an early opportunity to show its teeth. History will show who's right. But if I were you, I'd buy some shares in TNT……

  3. Ministry of truth permalink
    10/14/2009 12:52

    I'll just hope my stakeholder pension manager takes your advice on the shares! If striking is counter-productive what do you suggest they do? You might want to look at what has happened recently at Tower Hamlets College where striking has beaten back some of the cuts that were proposed.

  4. Ministry of truth permalink
    10/16/2009 07:08

    I see Mandy and Crozier have their Ridley plan. Maybe you should lay the blame for the strike there, not with the workers.

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