Thursday, September 17, 2009

Royal Mail Blues

Apparently the Royal Mail are considering a national strike. No, really, they actually are considering formalising their current approach of doing no work, rather than just pretending that they are actually doing something.

The potential strike is in response to possible redundancies that may result from the modernisation of the Royal Mail. According to Dave Ward, who holds the wonderfully Stalinist title of "deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers' Union":
"Modernisation is crucial to the future success of Royal Mail, but the implementation of change must be agreed and it must bring with it modern pay and conditions.

"Postal workers deserve to be rewarded for change. We want to see a new job security agreement which will help people through this time of change for the company … Modernisation should improve services not cut them."
Well, "modern pay and conditions" very easily could mean redundancy, in this day and age. I fail to see why the Royal Mail should be sheltered from the economic reality affecting the rest of the country. And as for "rewarded for change", why, precisely? Their reward for doing their job is surely the pay they get for it. If their job changes, then the workers need to think about whether they feel their remuneration reflects their changed circumstances. If it doesn't, then they can always find another job. Rather than trying to cripple their existing employer with unthinking demands for more pay.

I'll agree that job security is a nice idea. Unfortunately it doesn't really exist anywhere anymore. Again, there is no reason why the Royal Mail should be different from other organisations. Employers take on people to do a job. Unfortunately, should they change their structure/way of working, then they may need to lose some employees. It isn't ideal for those that lose jobs; yet it isn't realistic for organisations to keep people on when they have no work for them to do.

And the concept that modernisation shouldn't improve services rather than cut them is spot on as far as I am concerned. However, I'm prepared to entertain the idea that modernisation might involve cutting head-count in order to improve services. And that is still A-OK as far in my humble opinion.

Finally, maybe Deputy General Secretary Ward might want to use some empathy and consider why - after a summer where Royal Mail employees have devastated the already tatty reputation of that organisation and made mail deliveries even more of a joke than they have been before - those running the Royal Mail believe increased automation and employing fewer people might be the best way forward for them.

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