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 The government have withdrawn from any involvement even though they are the owner, employer, regulator and paymaster.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.
Posted by Bill Quango MP