Friday 9 October 2009

Is this the start of Brown's breakdown?

Breakdown with the public sector that is.
The postal strike looms. CWU members voted to hang up the mail bags.
A mail strike is incredibly damaging to the UK. Business are postal dependent. Mail volumes have fallen, but that was largely private mail. Business mail has increased, especially in parcels.
The internet shop has to be delivered.
CWU usually manage to out Scargill Arthur with their unreasonable, unrealistic demands. This time however, they have a lot more right on their side and are in no mood to accept more demands.

The trouble is RM have government targets to meet that require a huge, HUGE, % of savings.
This means that
a} A delivery of mail at 5pm will count as delivered in time. This is useless for business.
b} The workers are being made to go onto part time contracts, give up their pensions and benefits and do the same job for less money for longer hours. No one wants that.
c} The working conditions and numbers to be cut that CWU/RM agreed in 2008 and are now being broken.

And the union can sense a weak government dependant on their finances.

RM are appalling managers. Unions are appalling employees. Both sides detest each other. That is a big stumbling block to anything. The company is in trouble and the government simply gave up in dealing with it when it became too politically difficult. One day it was 'RM will collapse within weeks' - the next - 'Nothing needs doing.' The government have withdrawn from any involvement even though they are the owner, employer, regulator and paymaster. Its a ridiculous situation.
CWU never wanted a strike. They wanted to act tough, have the threat of strike to force RM to renegotiate terms. RM decided to do nothing for 3 months waiting to see if CWU had the strength of feeling among its members to strike and trying equally to look tough. In a climate where people are lucky to have any job I guess RM thought that despite the union having always voted to strike in the past, this time it wouldn't. Well it did.

This is the last thing that a 0.1 growth economy needs is a delivery problem. This frightened government, frightened of the unions who bankroll its bankrupt finances and frightened of being held in any way accountable for the problems that its stupid postal regulation caused say they can't get involved. Its demand for efficiencies based on a blanket percentage cuts in a very short timetable and frightened of having to face the anger of people who suddenly realise the true cost of mails when UPS want £4 to deliver a Christmas card will do nothing in public.

They have two weeks to do something in private. Other public sector unions, told of pay freezes and budget cuts will be watching very closely. If not handled correctly this could be the start of the winter of discontent.


Old BE said...

It only costs four times as much to send a letter from London to Kuwait by DHL as it does to send a letter from London to Bristol by Special Delivery.

The unions and management must be the only people in the whole country who can't foresee the consequences of what they are doing.

Important docs will go by courier, everything else will go by email.

Bill Quango MP said...

What you don't know BE is that its CHEAPER to send a 100g packet to Bulgaria from London by Royal Mail than it is to send it to Bolton.

Its also dearer to send packets by sea, than by air, to Europe.

RM never check their pricing structures properly after a % increase.

Anonymous said...

It could play quite nicely into the governments hands - post office closures due to mail being sent via other carriers.


measured said...

Let's hope they do not communicate with each other by post, even though they appear poles apart.

Houdini said...

Don't forget too that RM cannot charge more than 20p for delivering letters for TNT that cost them 32p top deliver.

I hate to agree with the unions, but THIS Government has deliberately destroyed the RM purely for ideological reasons; i.e. they cannot privatise it, so must destroy it to sell it off piecemeal.

DK said...

I hate to say it, but the union is in the right this time. Talk of losing business to the private sector is fanciful since the private mail couriers all rely on the Royal Mail to do the final delivery. If the strike goes ahead it will stop the private deliveries too.

Anonymous said...

Not quite DK. The private mail carriers using Royal Mail will still take the mail and the money AND attempt to sue royal mail for breach of contract when they don't deliver it.

James Higham said...

Bill, I summarized the Conference at my place and part of that was a breakdown, by the TPA, of the actual state of our finances. The postal strike is certainly the means, the last straw or even the first but it is the people finding themselves out of work with no dole money that is going to be the real catalyst next year.

Unless Labour go, we are in very deep trouble.

Anonymous said...

We're like a runaway vehicle racing down a hill with a bunch of idiots on board ie the Labour party who think they are in control and continue to destroy everything on board in their feeble attempts to steer the charanc but when they've all fallen over board and the bus finally rolls to a stop, no one will be able to start it up and drive it up the hill again, not untill they find an elusive mechanic with specialised knowledge of heritage vehicles, alas Labour never saw fit to keep that type of apprenticeship running. We're all doomed to the museum of time. Start walking everyone, it's going to be a very long slog.