Monday, 19 October 2009

Posties Poised To Strike

Radio Bracknell reports that it is seemly inevitable that the Communication Workers Union will take its' member out on strike on 22nd October, after last minute talks failed to reach agreement, despite an uncommonly unified front between Labour and Conservative party leaders against action during today's Prime Minister's Question Time in Parliament.

Earlier this year Reading West MP Martin Salter supported industrial action by the CWU, stating plans to sell-off 30% of Royal Mail to Dutch company TNT was wrong because profits could not be put before the universal service guarantee.

He said "It is senseless to try to repair the damage with yet more privatisation and risk destroying an institution."

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said, "Postal workers do not want to have to take strike action, but neither are they prepared to put up with continuing attacks from a management which is failing."

But Neville Hobson finds it hard to understand the move to strike considering it is a business "trying to find a place in the new world of 'more digital and less analogue'."

He calls the 'arm-twisting' of the CWU unnecessary 'posturing' and says the confrontational approach of company bosses is only likely to hurt the company as it leads into the busiest period of the year. He also notes that numerous alternative service providers are poised to take market share if Royal Mail continues to alienate customers.

Alistair McRonald says the postal industry is ripe for a shake-up since Royal Mail is a mess and their leaders offer only warm words about reform. He argues that industrial action may have medium-term benefits becacuse it will only hasten restructuring at the national company.

Elsewhere the BBC provides some much needed statistical information to illuminate the challenges facing Royal Mail.

55,000 jobs have been cut from the business since 2002 as a 'technology wedge' has opened up, corresponding with a decline in mail volumes as digital communication methods such as e-mail have grown in popularity.

They also point out that Royal Mail's pension deficit is far in excess of comparable FTSE100 companies - at £8bn it is more than double all but one!

Google aggregates more.

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Update: Andy Peacock defends the Prime Minister from agreeing with David Cameron in the House of Commons.

Joey Nova points out that the employees of Royal Mail do have a choice:
"You weren’t held at gun point in the interview, your family wasn’t hooked up to an elaborate “Saw” style trap where the only way you could save them was to work for Royal Mail. You made a choice. So stop bitching about it."
Adrian Hollister argues that the public service would be enhanced by opening up the postal market to fair competition. He says the 'stifling' competition rules imposed by the government have been counter-productive and caused the contraction of the business.

Graham Jones explains that a strike "merely reduces the confidence of buyers" and argues that online retailers will need to think more deeply about their delivery mechanisms because the additional costs clearly show that "the Royal Mail either provides excellent value for money, or has consistently been too cheap compared with other ways of delivering items."

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