Thursday, 29 October 2009

Problematic Postal Picket

Below are the details from LONDON (Reuters) website about the postal strike action:

More than 40,000 postal workers began a second wave of one-day strikes after Royal Mail managers and union leaders failed to reach a deal to end the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and modernisation.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said 43,700 drivers and mail centre staff across Britain walked out from 4:00 a.m.

They will be followed on Friday by a small group of 400 workers in the towns of Plymouth, Stockport and Stoke and then on Saturday by 77,000 delivery and collection staff nationwide.

The strike went ahead after negotiations between CWU officials and Royal Mail managers in London collapsed for reasons that both sides agreed not to disclose.

"We remain available for discussions at any time," CWU Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward said in a statement. "We remain committed to reaching an agreed resolution."

The backlog of undelivered mail from two strikes last week still stands at 2 million items, the Royal Mail said.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has described the strikes as suicidal for a company that is losing 10 percent of its mail volume each year to private firms, the Internet, email and mobile phones.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose Labour Party has received about 5 million pounds from the postal union since 2001, has called the strikes "counter-productive."

I am spilt on this dispute as I can see both sides. As a customer of Royal Mail it’s an inconvenience even for my personal mail – I can’t imagine how it would be for people trying to run a business while this is still unresolved.

From speaking to many people and reading opinions online I can see that it’s not only me. I agree that postal workers are affecting businesses and people are suffering as a result; in times like this recession they are lucky to have a job with a good pension and if they can afford not to work (by striking) then things cannot be too bad financially for them, they are however affecting other people's income and that is not very fair.

On the other hand I read one postal worker’s response to the negative press the workers had received and was sympathetic, he said:
“They have moved my hours by 3 hours with no thought of my family and home life, one guy came back from holiday to find he'd be working Saturdays, he's never done a Saturday in 20 years! Every single office and mail centre has had this happen through executive action - No managers have changed their hours or days. I look around my office and see more managers than actual workers, get rid of them not us.”

I understand that postal workers need to adapt to change (many industries are going through similar experiences) if they want the company to survive the competition that technology has brought but I know I wouldn’t be happy if there wasn’t a sense of fairness and equality in these changes.

Research has shown that the authoritative approach the Royal mail seem to have adopted is ineffective in a changing work place – a company needs to bring the workers with them through openness, consultation and collaboration, not necessitate change without an explanation.

It also seems to me that Royal mail execs and the union are battling egos whilst the public and the workers are losing out – that is just my take on it but either way there needs to be a speedy solution. What are your thoughts?

FYI: For those who want to avoid the effects of the postal strike on parcels and maybe even save some money, here is a forum link with some useful information from the bargain hunter Martin Lewis’ website:

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