Post Strikes will not help the Post Office survive but ...

Yes, a big but in my mind is that the problems in the Post Office could so easily have been avoided.

In great part the problems have been caused by the government insisting that the UK postal market be opened up to foreign competition whilst many of the countries the foreign companies are from do NOT open up their own services. In much the same was as it is very difficult now to find a UK company that provides water, gas or electricity because they have been bought by foreign companies whose home markets are still monopolies, the same is happening to the postal service.

The changes the Post Office need to go through do not have to be so quick and so radical and were it not the need to change so quickly of be made extinct by foreign companies who offer few benefits to their own workers, the Post Office's change could have been evolutionary and not revolutionary.

Of course, the proposed changes to the Post Office Pension scheme might have been avoided if the post office had not taken a seventeen year pension holiday on its pension fund (not this was started under the Tories and continued under Labour).

However, given where we are at, I cannot see hoe striking will do anything other than play in to the hands of the Post Office's foreign rivals but I accept at the same time that if I were a postal worker and they were threatening to cut my pension then I would probably go on strike too.


Anonymous said...

As a postal worker nearing 60, I agree with the comments here. Royal Mail is proposing to cut my pension from 1 April next year by making it 'Career' based instead of
based on my final salary, and from 1 April 2010 we will have to work to 65, instead of being able to retire at 60, as I was promised when I joined RM almost 30 years ago. I have always paid my pension contributions - it was RM who took a pensions holiday for 17 years, but it is me and my fellow workers who are being penalised.
Also RM are proposing huge changes which will make us virtually slaves at their beck and call, changing our attendances and making us work longer hours without extra pay without notice, making it impossible to plan a home life, child care etc.
They are refusing to negotiate with our Union, and are imposing these changes by 'Executive Action'.
RM's changes will also worsen our services to our customers - they will be closing down 2,500 Post Offices, and deliveries will be up to 2 hours later.
This is why we are having to respond with industrial action.
If you want to hear how postal workers feel about this and to find out more about RM's proposals have a look at www.royalmailchat.co.uk

Tristan said...

I don't care if foreign companies don't have to compete at home, the opening up of the market in the UK is best for consumers.

Who cares what country a company comes from? Economic nationalism is a nonsense.

The problems were not created by deregulation, they were simply highlighted by it. The problems stem from a bureaucratic government run service. A postal service is not something the state needs to run, its not a natural monopoly.

Gazza9000 said...

The problem with deregulation is that the private companies entering the market do not have to compete on equal terms. They can undercut the price quoted to a poster by Royal Mail, but RM is not allowes to undercut them, by the Regulator.
They only want to take on the bulk postings which are already postcode sorted, and therefore only have to be separated by machines, and are then returned to RM for the 'final mile' delivery, which is the difficult and costly part of the process - this is called Down Stream Access.
RM still delivers 98% of the post,
up to 20% of which has been processed by competitors. The private firms only pay RM 13p for each letter, but it actually costs an average 19p to deliver that letter, so RM is subsidising the competition. This is inevitably going to lead to the end of the universal service obligation and mean that delivery providers will have to charge on the basis of distance/difficulty of delivery. The private sector is not interested in setting up a universal delivery system which is difficult and expensive. They would only deliver business post in big cities.
Which is why other European countries are delaying or opposing opening up the postal service markets, and why the UK Government should not have rushed into deregulation years ahead of the rest of the EU.

Diamedes said...

I am afraid that despite providing an excellent service it is only a matter of time before electronic delivery replaces physical delivery of everything smaller than a packet. Perhaps it is too early to say goodbye to the Royal Mail, but the recent strike will help ensure the UK's Postal Service dies a death with perhaps even more catastrophic effects for those employed in it and its customers than the unions in the ship and car building building industries caused in the fifties and sixties.

Salvete Postman Pat, Adam Crozier et al.