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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Scottish Government deals killer blow to Royal Mail on eve of national strike

The Scottish Government have dealt a killer blow to Royal Mail by awarding the £8million Procurement Scotland/public sector contract which deals with the mail to NHS Scotland, colleges and most councils in Scotland to TNT from the 1st November.

How must Royal Mail staff across Scotland feel now, today on the eve of the big UK wide strike when they find out the SNP controlled Government have stabbed them in their backs?

This news comes only a matter of weeks after the announcement that Royal Mail had lost the contract with Amazon, this cannot be healthy for Scotland?

Yesterday in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrats Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael questioned postal services Minister, Pat McFadden MP this very issue.

Speaking in the House of Commons Chamber, Mr Carmichael asked;

Even without the impact of strike action we have the very alarming news in Scotland, that one of the major public sector contracts, the Procurement Scotland/public sector contract which deals with the mail to NHS Scotland, colleges and most councils in Scotland is going to be given to a private sector operator. What can he do to ensure that the hemorrhaging of business that we’ve seen from private business to which he has referred does not now spread to the public sector?”

Replying, Minister for Business, Pat McFadden MP said;

“Competition exists and it won’t go away. Competition exists in the postal service and I have to say to the Honourable member that it cannot be wished away, band what I want is a Royal Mail that is fit to win in that market rather than a Royal Mail that simply wishes competition to go away, and I make a second point the most fundamental challenge to Royal Mail is not competition from other mail companies it’s competition from other communication technologies and that must lie at the heart of the response to this dispute.”

I am pleased that Alistair Carmichael is taking the Government to task over this but I wonder what the SNPs Mike Weir MP will have to say about it, he has strong views on TNT you know?

On the 16th March this year, SNP Postal Affairs spokesperson, Mike Weir MP, expressed bemusement at news HM Revenue & Customs had awarded a £4.5 million-a-year contract to deliver its internal mail to TNT and went on to say;

“I think people will struggle to understand why a firm, which just repaid millions in unpaid taxes, has been awarded a multi-million pound contract from the Inland Revenue.

“HMRC really need to explain what their thinking is on this one.

“To make matters worse this is the firm that appears to be front-runner to buy into Royal Mail if Lord Mandelson’s privatisation plans come to fruition.

“Privatisation would spell the beginning of the end for Royal Mail, and open the door to job losses, service cuts and a deterioration in the working conditions of postal workers.

“A private partner will only be concerned with profit, and Royal Mail must not loose the social focus which is essential for rural areas.”

I wonder if Mr. Weir would like his comments passed onto the First Minister, who's Government have awarded the new government contract to TNT?

Don't get me wrong, I am also all for competition and obviously like to pay the cheapest cost to get something done but is the right time to be putting the boot into the Royal Mail, it appears that our SNP and Labour Governments don't actually care?

I think it is right to have competition within the postal services, but Royal Mail should run the mail system and not have to do it at a loss and should treat their workers with respect and loyalty and then maybe we wouldn't see the continuing strikes escalate.

The Scottish Government response to the £8million contract being awarded to TNT instead of Royal Mail? "The other bigger contract went to the Royal Mail" - the problem is they already had the contract!

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