If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Going Postal

I like our postman. He's a nice chap. The postman before him was a treasure, and the whole village threw him a party when he retired. In general, I think the Post Office is a natural monopoly and performs a valuable service in all kinds of ways.

But this makes me mad.

The Communication Workers Union has described Royal Mail's decision to hire up to 30,000 temporary workers as "a stupid move".

Hang on. You are threatening to strike and take all your members out, and when the management take steps to keep the service going in your absence they are "stupid"? (Or is it 'stupid' as in: "that was a verrrrry foolish thing to do, Mr Bond"?)

And then I read this:

Employing extra people to do the work of staff who are on strike is illegal under employment law.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? In what possible parallel universe is that fair or reasonable? The workers have the right to walk out, break their employment contracts, and still have a job waiting for them when they deign to return to work. But the employer, faced with customers who expect a service, and who will go elsewhere if they don't get it, is not allowed to take reasonable steps to ensure continuity. That seems to me to be entirely against any notion of natural justice.

Lord Myners, and Adam Crozier, and you, and I, and the dog, and the neighbour's dog, all understand one thing very well: We live in an age of developing technology. If people can't send letters, they will send emails. If people can't send Christmas cards, they will send e-cards. If people can't post parcels, they will use UPS, or DHL, or FedEx, or City Link, or whatever. And a substantial proportion of those won't come back to Royal Mail, or PorcelFarce, or whatever. They will be gone for good.

The CWU need to realise that they are in a declining market, and that they need all the help they can get to survive in the modern communications environment. Striking will only hasten the end.

Billy Hayes reminds me very much of Arthur Scargill: a man who is prepared to put all his members on the dole for the sake of a socialist principle. A working-class hero is something to be.

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