Thursday 29 October 2009
Royal Mail strike update
The mail is getting through. So far.
CWU claim 50-60 million items undelivered, while Royal Mail say 5 million. Split the difference and its 30 million.
Royal Mail delivers about 85 million items a day so I expect the average delay will be 1 day extra. The 9/10 items that are posted by businesses can probably live with that. So can Royal Mail.
On strike days like today the mail actually being posted is far far less than normal as companies and people just don't post.
However this is causing damage to business. Card companies are especially hard hit as people just aren't sending what is usually an impulse item anyway. The damage is falling especially hard on small business who cannot switch to alternatives, and the 12,000 Post Offices who are paid by the stamp and are seeing a huge reduction in mail traffic. So far its manageable but if CWU continue to strike and RM is forbidden to bring in its 30,000 temps before the Christmas orders start it will be catastrophic for the economy.
The Tories feel strengthened by this dispute and have announced their plans to fully, not partly, privatise the mail. Quite how is unclear. If its anything like the trains privatisation a parcel will cost around £100 to send unless you book in advance through the national postal service. If you do it will only cost you £50 and taxpayer subsidy of £50.
But privatisation of the mail has long been a requirement of the Tories and is now virtually an EU requirement anyway. Ken Clarke would love to get rid of a government problem, a modernisation problem and a union problem and make it all a regulators problem.
CWU really must get an agreement soon. At the moment they have the support of the public sector, the fury of the business sector and a 50/50 from the public. Christmas orders traditionally begin increasing from Monday after the Halloween stock is packed away for another year and the Santa sets come out.
CWU really are bringing anything they can think of to the table. From the size of a postman's round to the time allowed for a coffee, to the weight of a bag of mail. Its exasperating for Royal Mail. But ,as we have said before, Royal Mail management aren't blameless.
Just today, in the middle of a strike, they sent out the latest round of hours reductions. Each delivery postie, deciding if they should go on strike on Saturday, will have been told today that their hours, and pay, will soon be cut and their workload increased. How did the incompetent management think the workers would respond?
Ken Clarke must be rubbing his hands in anticipation of a long,destructive and futile strike that leaves a broken union, demoralised workforce, and a bankrupt organisation ready for TNT.