Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nationwide support for Postal Workers

Public support for the CWU strike.

You saw the headlines of despair last week. Those Christmas cards allegedly gathering dust in depots because of the nasty costly ugly suicidal striking postmen.

Well, the public turned out more understanding and sympathetic than the press would have you believe.

A ComRes poll commissioned for BBC Newsnight revealed on Thursday that 50% of those surveyed sympathised with the postal workers as opposed to 25% backing the Royal Mail management in the dispute.

More, "the vast majority of people do not think the Royal Mail should be privatised (68%)". Details of the survey to be found here (pdf).


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I must admit, I'm not a fan of the strikes nor do I back them really, I still believe that they are shooting themselves in the foot.

socialist sam said...

They were left with no alternative, Daniel.
It was a series of intollerable, concerted episodes that built up over a period of three years at least.
A strike is always a last resort.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I'm sure just think that it will do long term damage to the industry itself, as the consumer has no other choice to turn to, not yet but we will and then that will mean a great service will be lost.

Workers and employers need to be flexible to changing demands ion their industry, it can't carry on as it always has; mail is changing.

socialist sam said...

Sure it does. And in fact at Roayal Mail over 60,000 jobs went since 2004. But you've got to draw a limit on how much you can stamp on workers' rights, otherwise there's no use in complaining about the excesses of today's society...

Also: don't believe the myth that post is decreasing. For every email that is being sent instead of a letter to your penfriend in Belgium, there's millions of items ordered online.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I agree that workers have plenty of rights, including to strike but that comes with implications for taking that action; what they'll be who knows and at the moment we have no other provider to turn to but if we did, I would be and would never darken Royal Mail's door again.

And yes, mail is changing but the Royal Mail have got to change with it, the volume of letters is falling, there is less profit as you move into parcels because more competition.

Complex stuff I'm sure the maths of mail but it needs all parties to emabrace change rather than digging the heels in.

claude said...

Hi Daniel,

re the CWU strike, I shared your opinion until last week when I read this article written by a postman. (LINK:

It takes 5 minutes to read, but it shows why the postal workers were driven to a walk-out, presumably by sheer frustration.

Also, like I wrote myself last week. What barefaced piece of (fill in the dots) can forcefeed cuts and savings on the workforce with the view that RM is failing while netting £3m a year in salaries and bonuses???

P.S. By the way, informative stuff about "Club Romania drinks are free" on your site ;-)

Madam Miaow said...

As Socialist Sam points out, with the explosion in online shopping this should be a golden age for the post office. But unfortunately, we have a management intent on driving it into the ground in preparation for privatisation. This is theft on a grand scale, stealing from the public sphere and it's going on all over the world. Good luck to the posties for making a stand because they are making a stand for us.

Victoria Coren's article in yesterday's Observer is a strong argument for supporting the strike.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Yes but parcels are open to competition aren't they, already?

So it is hardly a golden age, many of the parcels I take delivery of, aside from Amazon, are not dealt with by Royal Mail because they are not the cheapest or the best and this kind of industrial action by the workers and the policy of the board does not help matters.

I want a strong postal service but this will only lead to further private sector creep.

Madam Miaow said...

"Yes but parcels are open to competition aren't they, already?"

Indeed, Daniel. But the point is that there's more than enough business to make Royal Mail profitable if it wasn't for deregulation and all the other methods of slicing the most profitable sectors of the mail.

The management is running down the service to such an extent that soon there'll be nothing left.

Claude, I thought that item by the postie in the London Review of Books (?!!) was illuminating and I've added the link to my latest post. Thanks.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

But we can't underegulate can we?

So Royal Mail have to be competetive, I mean, I want them to be, I'm not a fan of their being profit in mail of any sort.

Madam Miaow said...

Sorry, Daniel, not quite sure what you mean by "underegulate". I think you raise the question of what the purpose of deregulation is and whose interests it serves.

According to that postie article Claude linked to, the competition is not fair: 'None of these companies has a universal delivery obligation, unlike the Royal Mail. In fact they have no delivery obligation at all.'

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Sorry for not being clear and bad spelling, I meant to say un-deregulate, as in we can't go back and do that, as much as I would like to as I am not a fan of private sector involvement in essential public services.

And indeed, none of other companies has universal delivery obligation which is waht makes the Royal Mail great but they do have individual delivery obligations with each and every customer as outlined in the contract you make with them when you buy their services.

Madam Miaow said...

How come rules can only be made in one direction? I don't see why a government that truly represents the wishes of the electorate couldn't reverse deregulation. After all, they are the government, we vote them in, and we own the Royal Mail.

Whatever the private companies offer, Royal Mail does better and cheaper (half the price according to either the Pilger or postie article). The whole situation is another scam to loot the public sphere.

Pilger in New Statesman:

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

If I want a source on how efficient the Royal Mail is I would not ask someone from the Royal Mail.

Same goes for its competitors.

And I doubt very much we will see a reversal of the damage done to the Royal Mail.

Madam Miaow said...

And yet we get all our information from management and Mandelson. Why not read the guy's article? It's the other side's take for once from someone on the frontline. You can decide for yourself if anything sounds implausible.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Fuck me!

I have read the bloody piece by the postie, I used to work for Royal Mail for Godsake in the sorting office in Beeston.

Seriously, there are tow side to this, if not more.

claude said...

Does that mean you can now see why they went on strike, Daniel ;-).

This is the thing. Unless I blinked, there were very few people (but literally one or two) in the press explaining the background to the strike in detail.

And, like I wrote the other day, it's very easy not to support a strike. By definition, it's unpleasant, it's disruptive, it's a pain in the bum for most. Until, exactly, you find out exactly why.