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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Postal strike - who is benefitting?

So, the strike by Royal Mail employees in London, now in it's 14th week is continue to spread like a rash. Today postal workers in Ayrshire have joined in, the strike has already affected other parts of Scotland - Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Bathgate, Dunfermline and Cumbernauld.

This action taken by workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) comes ahead of the ballot for a nationwide strike due next week.

Who actually benefits with these unofficial and official strikes though?

According to the CWU website they acknowledge that Royal Mail needs to modernise but that they need to do it with CWU Members, Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "Without agreement there can be no successful change in Royal Mail. This is a simple message which Royal Mail management needs to take on board. Postal workers are striking to defend future services as well as for jobs and modern conditions.

"Modernisation is crucial to the future success of Royal Mail, but the implementation of change must be agreed and it must bring with it modern pay and conditions.

"Postal workers deserve to be rewarded for change. We want to see a new job security agreement which will help people through this time of change for the company."

In my eyes what the CWU are saying is yes, we agree the company needs to modernise but pay us more for working within that framework - to be honest I don't quite get that side of an argument because then that costs more on top of the modernisation costs which equals more debt and therefore counteracts the overall modernisation argument.

Royal Mail Managing Director Mark Higson said: "The ballot further underlines the CWU’s determination to renege on the existing 2007 agreement on Pay and Modernisation which the union’s leadership signed in the presence of the TUC. It beggars belief that CWU chief Dave Ward says today that the disruption caused by the CWU strike is hurting customers yet at the same time calls a national strike ballot to step up the damage they are already inflicting on customers big and small.

"The CWU leadership is well aware that it has already agreed all the changes Royal Mail is making and we urge them to recognise the tough economic conditions faced by all our customers and Royal Mail itself and to live up to their claims to support modernisation and to focus - as the company is doing- on delivering the postal service on which so many customers depend."

You can read fully what Royal Mail and the CWU say.

I represent the good folk of Britain and I will be honest, I have sent mail via other means now and it was easy and sometimes cheaper, certainly if I need to get something to London I will look in detail at other ways of doing this.

More and more companies are moving to other companies such as DHL and TNT, what will CWU Members do when even more companies do and when the public start searching out these other alternatives? Royal Mail accept a 10% drop in mail over the last year, surely these strikes don't help to change that?

Surely what the CWU don't get is that there are more mail companies popping up all the time and while they currently rely on Royal Mail for the final point of delivery, how much longer will that last while the majority of workers continue to strike?

Finally we see the CWU doing a national ballot but what is there view on the wildcat strikes? I couldn't find anything obvious on their website.

There are also over 2.4million people unemployed looking for a paid job, one that pays more than the state benefits of around £60.50 per week, how does that compare to a postal worker?

If working for Royal Mail is that bad stand aside and let someone else have a go and you can then go and do something you enjoy.


Caron said...

I don't really think it's all about money. I think it's more about culture and managing change. The Royal Mail has been a hotbed of industrial action and wildcat strikes for so long now. That doesn't happen in an organisation with a healthy culture. If the Royal Mail management took action to make their employees feel better valued and treated them like grown ups, then I think you wuoldn't see so many strikes.

It's not as easy as saying "if you don't like it get out". I count being happy in your work as being an essential part of productivity. That doesn't mean that you don't work hard - quite the reverse - but you're committed to your goal, if you like.

I reckon, actually, that the way to resolve the postal strike for good is to get managers who understand people in - people like you, except you are not allowed to leave your current position cos you're too good:-)

Anonymous said...

Caron has it spot on and I am saying that as a Postie.

Modernisation so far for the ordinary postie has meant
1. No pay rise this year, which I will accept even if RM made a profit of £321,000,000 this year.
2. Last 3 years pay rise all below inflation and RPI.
3. Later deliveries to householders.
4. Earlier Last collections.
5. No collections from Post Offices and Boxes on Sunday and Bank Holidays.
6. Larger and larger delivery rounds.
7. Heavier and or more bags to deliver because of PIP (Pricing in proportion) I used to have 4 on my round now 8 is more normal.
8. Later starts. Which is why customers are getting post later and later in the day.
9. 2,500 post offices closed and a "hard sell" culture introduced.
10. 30 minute flexibility has been introduced which according to the agreement is voluntary, yet people being sent home without pay when they can't (and yes sometimes won't) do it.
11. Lapsing rounds was meant to be when there was time spare, on the 1st day of planned absence and to allow more posties to take holidays in summer. However, posties still lapse on the busiest days, on the 6th and 7th day of absence, and to date no extra slots have been made available for posties to take summer breaks. Lapsing makes rounds bigger by the way.

Future RM modernisation will impact customers in the following ways.

1. Even later deliveries I work at the moment 6am to 2pm, RM are moving to 9am to 5pm which means later post for everyone. Also with the 10% drop in volume (although the actual % may be in question)rounds are being increased making later post more likely.
2. Est 20,000 more redundancies meaning more use of casual labour when its busy - which means a less professional work force.
3. At the moment most (though not all) business mail is ready for collection at 9am, in future to ensure you get the same service you will need to may £3,000 plus a year.
4. More Post Office closures and more "Hard selling" in them.
5. Removal of under used Post Boxes - collecting 20 - 30 letter per day is just not efficient.
6. Increasing stamp prices - beyond RPI and inflation to pay for "modernisation".

So as you can see although yes there is some self protection behind the strikes, but also, in this humble posties opinion, some attempt to stop further degradation of the service we try to provide.

Please note I am just an ordinary Postman I hold no official in the CWU or RM beyond that.

Reasonable Robinson said...

I have every sympathy with anyone being confronted with job scope and nature changes, work intensification etc and limits on pay rises. I'm a public sector worker too. The issue is that striking is cutting of your nose to spite your face. People have alternatives now and can choose to try alternative services other than the RM. The business isn't too big to ignore changes in the world around it.

If the incumbents can do it better then why not develop a competitive value proposition, get funding and walk out of RM leaving them high and dry!! If you are that good just do it and no one could argue that you right all along about how the business should have been run.

mart_swines said...

Check out my song about the postal strike:

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