Go and support your postman tomorrow


6:12 pm - October 21st 2009

by David Semple    


      Share on Tumblr

Early tomorrow morning, I shall be awake and walking down to the local Royal Mail depot to support the postmen and CWU in their dispute.

As Dave Osler points out, the issue has gone far beyond the mere question of who is right and who is wrong over the specific issues of modernisation. The question is now whether or not Royal Mail has the unmitigated right to do what it wants with its business.

Bearing in mind that the business survives on the labour extracted from tens of thousands of postal workers up and down the country, few of whom are paid very well – whilst their bosses enjoy bonuses on a level with parts of the City of London – I’m inclined to say that no, they do not. Modernisation must be agreed with the workers, or it simply should not be permitted to happen. It hasn’t been agreed.

In fact, Royal Mail have now said that they will only take the question to arbitration if the CWU give up their planned strike – which has been endorsed overwhelmingly by CWU members in a national ballot.

This amounts to asking the union to surrender before negotiations begin, and with the leaked Royal Mail policy document indicating that they want nothing less than union derecognition, it would be criminal to concede it.

Questions over the Royal Mail pension schemes, the continuing profitability of the business and so on are pertinent questions which need answering. The problem is not that trades unionists are too blockheaded, socialists too stubborn and workers too thick to come up with answers – but that any number of answers have been precluded in advance by the government’s attitude to privatisation – and the sale of profitable elements of Royal Mail to private providers, which continue to utilise the socialised distribution network.

These questions have been superceded by the attitude of Royal Mail management, which has become ever more intransigent as they see the government lining up to support them. A defeat for the CWU now would cast a cloud over all previous victories – such as the effort to fight the bullying culture which independent reports identified within Royal Mail.

Royal Mail abolished their anti-bullying awareness week in what can only have been an attempt to thumb their noses at CWU and provoke them into a fight.

Now it is a fight, alea iacta est. The working class, and all socialists, labourites and everyone on the Left, should stand behind the posties.

Turn up to their picket lines and wish them well. As one young pluck did, bring them homebaked goods. Donate some money to the strike fund. Attend solidarity group meetings. The bottom line is this; the posties are the men and women who deliver a service we all take advantage of.

If, in our own jobs, we know about mismanagement or the government neo-liberal ideology getting in the way of efficiency, if we’re sick of being lectured at and told things which are blatantly untrue, of being bullied and cajoled into overtime we’re not getting paid for, and we ever want the support of other workers, now is our time to shine.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
David Semple is a regular contributor. He blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Law ,Trade Unions

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


100% behind them!

I don’t know enough detail about this dispute, I’d appreciate a link that gives a good explanation of both sides.

The German Post bought DHL, the Dutch TNT, whereas the RM seems to have been in a mess for a generation – something needs to change

My support for the postal workers is less enthusiastic than David Semple’s, but I have no sympathy for the management. If you recall, the government was trying to find a private partner for the mail services eighteen months ago. That plan dissolved owing to the banking/investment crisis. The reason for bringing in a private partner was that the mail management were not up to the task of introducing the reforms necessary for the business to survive. As this strike begins, we have the same management team in place, who are trusted by neither government nor workers.

David Semple argues that “their bosses enjoy bonuses on a level with parts of the City of London”. I wouldn’t have any problem about those salaries if the management was any good, but it isn’t. The government is useless for not getting rid of them.

Yep, I’m going down to the local centre to support them. It takes a lot of guts to take strike action – people are only usually driven to it as a last resort.

“Go and support your postman tomorrow”

Oh, why? Will my postie come in and support me when I want better pay and conditions in my job?

If I’m behind them, it’s only give them a kick. You’re paid to deliver post. Get it delivered, before someone else does.

Will my postie come in and support me when I want better pay and conditions in my job?

Maybe he will. How will you know until you try to find out?

Way to go with the solidarity, Mark.

And yes, as it happens, if you ever needed union support, you’d probably get it.

Even though you are possibly a tosser.

When the lecturers at Keele Uni went out on strike a while back, the posties visited the picket lines and took part in our rally. So yes Mark you miserable sod, the posties would probably back you.

For those of you equivocating over support, would you have any sympathy for management (aided and abetted by the government) if you were in the posties’ position?

It’s always sad to see turkeys lining up to vote for Christmas:

“A host of large business customers, including the online retailers Amazon and Argos, will switch to rival operators.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/21/royal-mail-strike-backlog

It’s the profits Royal Mail gets from the growing volume of parcel post generated by online orders that is helping to make up for the losses on the snail-mail letter post. If the parcel post for big city deliveries is mostly switched to rival operators as the result of the strike, then it’s curtains for Royal Mail as we now know it.

Mandelson has been abused by the CWU but he is just spelling out the market realities. If the CWU think they will get a better deal with a Conservative government in place they urgently need medication. But then, as with the devout followers of Scargill during the 1984/5 mining strike, the display of revolutionary action by the working class, however dumb and pointless, was what mattered. How many deep coal mines are left working now?

Actually that Guardian story has already been admitted false.

So – you think working people should just stand there and take a whole donkey schlong up the butt, Bob?

The market realities that you, and dear Peter, speak of are those we’ve seen so much of from the private sector in recent times – bigger and bigger returns to shareholders, while staff salaries and pensions, etc, are squeezed and squeezed to pay for those shareholder returns… why, after the banking crash, do guys like you still have such a romantic view of market realities?

Mark M:

““Go and support your postman tomorrow”

Oh, why? Will my postie come in and support me when I want better pay and conditions in my job?

If I’m behind them, it’s only give them a kick. You’re paid to deliver post. Get it delivered, before someone else does.”

Strangely enough Mark M, trades unionists do tend to support others in their attempts to improve their pay and conditions. I guess you are the kind of person who joins a union when they discover that they not as fireproof or indispensable as they thought.

I hope you get laid off. It will be a great learning experience for you.

13. dreamingspire

In the last few years of last century and the beginning of this I was involved in some technology investigations for the Post Office, and also observed the fiasco of their smart card scheme. The results just trickled through the fingers of the senior management, but also central govt fumbling screwed them up. In particular by now they should have been running a people’s bank, but it is being left to the Credit Unions to do that in fragments.
My local postie is a great chap, and the people in the office where we collect parcels, etc, are great, but whether what they do is profitable I know not. That seems symptomatic – we just do not know what is going on in that organisation, but we do know that we almost all use them less and less.

Where’s the bit in the article about how badly this is going to p*** off the public?

“Where’s the bit in the article about how badly this is going to p*** off the public?”

Well – we’ve pretty much got the whole mainstream press writing about that. This post was sort of taking us somewhere new.

16. david brough

I’ll be there showing my support.

Scabs don’t realise that they get fucked over in the end.

Yes, yes, they don’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves. Which is why they supported Thatcher and knifed us in the back. But where did that end them up? I see scabs, people who thought they’d get rich while suckers like me stood up for our way of life. But now they’re either in shit jobs or on the dole like the rest of us.

I still hate them and always will, but they’ve learnt a lesson now. They hate Thatcher as much as everyone else.

What will these scabs do when Royal Mail fire them? When they get shat upon time and again and there’s no one to take their side? Supporting the likes of the BNP (who stood behind Thatcher in the 80s) will only make things worse for them.

Stand by your mates or you’ll get shafted, that is the simple lesson. I support my mates because they have my back, and they’ve saved my health and maybe even my life before. But even if I hated them I would believe in solidarity for my own sake.

If we don’t defend our postal service against Tory filth like Brown, Mandelson and Cameron, if we don’t stick up for people who rely on mail but from whom profits can’t be extracted by speculator scum like UK Mail, we’ll all be the losers.

Have we not learnt who our real enemies are? Have you forgotten what happened last year with Lehman Brothers and parasite cunts like Matt Ridley? You’ll soon get another lesson and you’ll wish you’d paid attention to begin with.

@12: “why, after the banking crash, do guys like you still have such a romantic view of market realities?”

I certainly don’t take a “romantic view” of market realities and have many times posted here on the economics of market failures with citations to the large technical literature. Sadly, you didn’t notice.

What I try earnestly to distinguish is between fudgy romantic notions about how things might be in some fantasy world and how I think market trends will actually work out in reality.

Many years back online I had what was for me an instructive discussion with a rather wise guy in the US about how most folks in an international forum were unable to grasp economic realities. His observation was that most folks are unable to distinguish between their personal prescriptive/proscriptive positions and hard analysis of what is likely to happen based on an understanding of how particular markets function. I fear that assessment was not only true at the time but still is.

In the Soviet Union, after they gave up shooting people with the “wrong ideas” or sending them off to gulags for rehabilitation, the authorities took to sending deviants off to mental hospitals for extended periods of drug therapy. Class me as a regular ideological deviant.

Btw I don’t think human nature is always the same and never changes.

Ten years back I was being called insane and the like online for arguing that it might not be a good idea for Britain to sign up to join the Euro. In 2003, I was sufficiently eccentric to question whether the Iraq war was such an obviously good idea. I even regarded the Bush administration in America as a looming disaster and wondered why we had to stand shoulder to shoulder with it. But then, I didn’t vote in the 2005 election because I regarded all the mainstream parties as pretty hopeless and I probably won’t vote in the next general election either.

Sadly, Bob, I hadn’t noticed you before, but you have wafted into frame now.

So – you’re saying that people should take the donkey schlong… that they have to accept market realities, because they’ll end up having to accept them anyway. You and your American friend are as cynical as you are distanced.

It’s not romantic to feel that you have no option but to take strike action… and clearly, the posties have reached such point. They’re not fudging reality – they’re looking those realities straight in the kisser, and wondering exactly how far they’re going to see their salaries and pensions, etc, eroded. Perhaps they won’t win – you certainly don’t think they will and plenty have their doubts. Royal Mail is obviously prepared to make a great deal of effort and fork out a great deal of money on temps to make sure that they don’t win. Nonetheless, the do-nothing option isn’t credible to them. There is nothing romantic about being in that spot.

Btw – there was nothing eccentric about questioning the war in Iraq, surely – the majority did that? And didn’t we all think Bush was out to lunch?

most folks are unable to distinguish between their personal prescriptive/proscriptive positions and hard analysis of what is likely to happen

In fact Bob they’re so far entrenched they can’t distinguish between their personal positions and what has already happened, viz;

there was nothing eccentric about questioning the war in Iraq, surely – the majority did that

Well actually, the majority of parliament were in favour as was the general public, given that they just kept on voying for TB.

And by the way KB, this says nothing about my opinion, just following the facts.

#19: “Btw – there was nothing eccentric about questioning the war in Iraq, surely – the majority did that? And didn’t we all think Bush was out to lunch?”

C’mon. There was a cross-party majority in Parliament for the Iraq war and the Conservative Party regularly keeps in touch with the Republicans in America even when the Republican leadership is completely duff. IDS was often saying we should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Bush administration.

I retain a sure feeling that my American friend was absolutely correct: most folks really can’t distinguish between analysis of the way markets are likely to work out and their personal prescriptive/proscriptive sentiments, whether larded with expletives about wicked capitalists and tories or not.

There’s lots above along the lines of: Up with the workers! and precious little on what to do about continuing Royal Mail losses and what will follow if the big online retailers divert their parcels to rival operators. Right now we need more hard thinking about likely futures and less class-warfare fantasy stuff.

Try the news report in the FT:

Companies scramble to find delivery services

“Retailers such as Amazon.com, Boden, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and House of Fraser have all reassured customers that they will be using couriers to get deliveries through as normal.”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a084d412-be73-11de-b4ab-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

BB, my man – you’re confusing party opinion with that of the masses… the majority of the great unwashed was opposed to the Iraq war in 2003, even in the States, except at the actual time of invasion, if memory serves. Subsequently, the US populace has fallen out of love with that war. It was by no means as popular with the people as it was with the politicians who perpetrated it, as I’m sure you are aware.

Re: sensible suggestions for the future of Royal Mail – well, Victoria Coren floated a few simple, but sensible ideas in her Saturday Guardian article:

“In beefing the delivery targets to unmanageable sizes per worker, then sacking postmen for failing to meet them, in axing the second post and generally thumping down the iron fist, the Royal Mail managed this year to make a £321m operating profit. They celebrated by imposing an immediate pay freeze on the workers… the £321m should be ploughed back into securing jobs, increasing wages and making the service better not worse.”

Surely, there is something to the notion that a better funded, better resourced workforce would make for the better service that would keep the Royal Mail competitive? The idea that one makes a profit and stays afloat by screwing the workforce into the ground is tried, but not necessarily true – Fremantle and CareUK workers and endless others who’ve found themselves on the sharp end of private sector working and profit making practices could tell you that. We’re not necessarily taking the ‘Up with the workers’ ‘ line above – it’s more a ‘down with the board’ view. You’re surely not going to sit and tell me that you think we should all accept that the likes of Fred Goodwin are a business fait d’accompli forevermore, simply because you have a feeling in your water?

KB you’re confusing your opinion with the facts. People were so angry about the war they voted TB back in.

As to the heavy handed RM management, you may well be right, I have little confidence in them. But I wonder if they aren’t echoes with the British Leyland management in the 70s, they too were useless and one of the more stupid things they did was to concede far too much power to the unions.

I remember a bbc undercover program about the RM , a couple of years ago don’t remember when exactly, but it was plain to see that the management had no day to day control and the “posties” as you call them were calling the shots, it was chaos.

I’d like to see a functional RM with post offices accessible to all, i fear it may be too late and i think both sides have alot to answer for.

I’ve been a LP member for a long time, and for a short while a union rep, but i’ve never believed in a knee jerk response to support whatever crackpot idea some union cabal trotted out. It’s the failure of dumb union leaders that gives the multinationals/corporations their power; and they laugh all the way to the bank.

I really don’t know enough about this particular strike and i’m willing to be convinced but not simply because they’re workers and must be supported.

I love the idea that posties are being made to do unpaid overtime. Anyone who knows anything about the mail industry knows that, a) the time on strike has already been covered by contingency overtime requested to mitigate the effects of the strike, and b) previous strikes have never cost the workers a penny (the time off being covered by emergency overtime to cover the back-log).

Clever, I’ll grant you ….

I have 6 deliveries coming over the next couple weeks, none of them using royal mail. So frankly I don’t care.

10.Bob b. Well put. Large numbers of small and medium entreprises depend upon the RM to deliver their goods and receive cheques. One London company believed £20K was in the post. As banks are cuttting back on loans, ths strike could cause many SMEs to go bust due to cash flow problems. I cannot see those employed in SMEs thanking the postmen for joining the dole.

Neither the management or the unions have explained their positions to the public.
To strike without attending ACAS does not make sense with regard to winning the PR camaign.

23. Kate Belgrave . Operating profit needs to considered wih regard to turnover and investment needs. Introducing technology invariably reduces the number of people employed- look at changes of patterns of employment in agriculture and industry over the last 300 yrs. Combine harvesters and tractors due the work of 100s of agricultural workers. Robots have replaced humans on car assembly lines.
The increasing ability to develop ever more technically advanced control systems reduces the need for human labour in many mechanised operations- surgeons are now using robots.

27. Cheesy Monkey

Bob B, Sil, Charlie2, et al:

So people (and fairly poor-paid people at that) are attempting to fight for their jobs, but this is wrong because it will inconvenience some coin-eyed businessmen?

Nice.

I bet you lot think the unemployed are lazy scroungers. Oh, and that many public sector jobs are ‘non-jobs’. Which effectively means you wish these people have both no job and a job at the same time.

[Well, howdy-doody folks, that’s the Conservative Party line for you: utter fucknuttery. It’s like the boy Gideon’s plan to get Britain out of recession by cutting investment, cutting the rich’s taxes and cutting jobs – like simultaneously blowing the prince and pebble-dashing the pauper. We’ll be told it’s ‘supply-side economics’ or ‘trickle-down economics’ or whatever-wank-we’ve-come-up-with-this-week-to-bamboozle-the-proles economics, probably by some City satan or a ‘Libertarian’ wanting his overworked staff to pay his taxes. I would rather frantically jizz over Fred West’s exhumed corpse than listen any more to these irredeemably evil feltchpipes. But, I digress…]

The Royal Mail management are to blame. 100%. Postal staff are being set wildly unrealistic targets which they struggle to meet. If Royal Mail goes to the wall in the next 12 months, don’t you think it might have something to do with the rancid old arseholes deliberately running it into the ground while receiving generous bonuses?

28. The Grim Reaper

I certainly won’t be supporting the posties tomorrow. This strike is nothing short of madness. Royal Mail are going to lose a tonne of business mail because of this, meaning they will have to make cutbacks. And where will these cutbacks be made? Why, on the very members of staff who are currently trying to save their jobs. I do hope they’re looking forward to life on the dole.

Although the fat, champagne-socialist (so not a proper socialist) waste of skin running the CWU won’t be losing his job, of course.

“So people (and fairly poor-paid people at that) are attempting to fight for their jobs, but this is wrong because it will inconvenience some coin-eyed businessmen?”

Said businessmen are not fat top-hatted capitalists and depend on their businesses for a living. Furthermore it inconveniences their customers, suppliers, anybody who has given them a loan etc. We all suffer if the economy gets buggered around, albiet indirectly.

@28: “I bet you lot think the unemployed are lazy scroungers”

What really fascinates me now is how the CWU lobby fodder doesn’t respond to rational analysis of the issues but starts instead to falsely attribute all sorts of bogus sentiments to those folks who do believe in the social benefits of rational analysis just to discredit them.

As it happens, on employment analysis I come from the keynesian tradition and recently posted this in another thread:

According the OECD Factbook, the employment rate in 2007, before the financial crisis, for the age group 15-24 was higher in Britain than in France, Germany or Italy:
http://puck.sourceoecd.org/vl=1328852/cl=33/nw=1/rpsv/factbook2009/06/01/02/06-01-02-g1.htm

The employment rate for the age-group 25-54 was higher in Britain than in Germany or Italy – France was marginally better:
http://puck.sourceoecd.org/vl=1328852/cl=33/nw=1/rpsv/factbook2009/06/01/02/06-01-02-g2.htm

Britain’s average unemployment rate for 2005-2007 was lower than in France, Germany or Italy but then, as we know, unemployment rates are affected by the numbers not in employment who are moved on to incapacity benefit, ESA or the equivalents in other countries.
http://puck.sourceoecd.org/vl=1328852/cl=33/nw=1/rpsv/factbook2009/06/02/01/06-02-01-g1.htm

All of that doesn’t prove that the Postal Strike makes any kind of sense or that the big generators of Royal Mail parcel post won’t switch their business to rival operators. But then I’ve stopped believing that the militants driving the CWU strike agenda actually care about the future of Royal Mail.

How dare these “coin eyed” businessmen worry about the effect it might have. Anyone would think they did something useful like create jobs and serve customers and that.

#28 selected reading / understanding or maybe just deluded

I wasn’t sure about this strike to begin with. And you know why? Because I knew little about it.

Then I started reading about and finding out details. The one that hit home was this link that someone called Bill posted on Dave Osler’s thread.

Which, really should be read by everybody. Because quite simply, most of us don’t have a clue about what being a postman today is like, and the pressure their under (at the bottom) and the millions they make (at the top…quelle surprise…).

Put simply, especially for people like cjcjcj, Bob B and others…surely you must be aware that to reach striking point postal workers must have reached tipping point? Surely they didn’t call such a controversial strike out of boredom, or did they?

And I dearly hope people like Bob B have a watertight job, because one day someone may turn round and say that they want to modernise his workplace and sack Bob B and his colleagues because “Robots have replaced humans eleswhere” and in the meantime his boss double his own bonus…etc etc

Um – cjcjc old boy – what job creation would you be referring to there…? – are you talking about the same Royal Mail that has been caught out several times planning massive job cuts this year… or perhaps you’re talking generally about those great businesspersons in the city who have not only put their own workforces out of work in the last 18 months, but managed to start the collapse that has led to thousands of people in other industries losing their jobs, including in the public sector… I personally wouldn’t give them a tin full of cold piss, myself, let alone a bonus. You’re spouting rhetoric, my good man, not using yr head.

The Royal Mail story is one of a hated modernisation plan and corporate greed – the two, of course, being more or less synonymous. Postal workers – who have made considerable sacrifices to make modernisation and profit possible – wish for a decent working conditions, realistic KPIs, and a share of the profits. Their only choice in the current environment is to withdraw their labour. I don’t see any of the No crowd on this thread offering any alternatives. How violently should low wage earners allow themselves to be screwed?

35. Dick the Prick

Not wanting to be a Tory Twat as is not only my job but my natural disposition, it does appear that they’ve been nicely screwed. The figure of about 60,000 chaps & chapesses having being told to sling their hook in the last 5 years seems, well, poorly managed.

I will claim a bit of ignorance but just using a few top line figures does give rise to the fact that they have a legitimate beef and the rhetoric used in that they’re signing their own suicide note is mendacious, rude, illogical and frankly disgusting.

Amazing: all this about the Royal Mail and not a single even mention of what’s really causing the problems. The European Union.

EU directives insist that the Mail must be opened up to competition. It is simply not allowed for it to remain with a monopoly. And as a part of that there are severe limitations upon what government, if it were so minded, can invest in it. For that would be illegal subsidy.

Now whether management or government could work within these restrictions better than they currently are is another matter. But simply not to mention the basic cause of the whole problem, the EU’s insistence upon the creation of a competitive market for mail delivery, seems absurd.

Did you know that every year Royal Mail chief exec Adam Crozier takes home the equivalent of TEN TIMES the annual profits of the entire company?

Surely that should be a priority? Surely that’s crap business, right?

Indeed it is crap business, Claude. It could hardly be crappier. It is exactly the business approach that has us up to our necks in it as we speak. Millions of people are out of work now – a number that is likely to increase when the Cameron show starts hooking into public services next year. Nonetheless, we’re still surrounded by cheerleaders for the abovementioned business model.

It amazes me – I would have thought that all of the hardline capitalists who slope onto these forums would want to see effective management, especially in their banks, but they don’t. I suppose they continue to dream that as long as our wallets are open to them, they might one day be Adam Croziers themselves. Those of us who are out here financing it all feel a little differently, of course. I buy stamps to send my post, not to finance Crozier’s fleet of nice cars. He ain’t creating jobs that I can see – he’s cutting staff, terrorising the ones who get to stay, causing industrial unrest, and pushing the business to the brink. Yet somehow we’re supposed to salute all that.

Give me strength.

Kate – I’m talking about the small businesses who rely on RM for deliveries.
But never mind about them and their staff.

Tim – yes indeed.
But it is taken for granted here that the EU is a wonderful thing…

“He ain’t creating jobs that I can see”

Not sure you’ve quite grasped this “economics” thing yet. We don’t want to create jobs. We want to find ways of getting things done, making things, with as few people employed as possible. This way people can go off and do other stuff: making other things. So we get two (or more) sets of things done rather than just one from the human labour available.

You know, this thing about instead of 90% of the population scraping in the fields with a stick to grow the food we use tractors and the rest: so that 2% do the farming and the rest of us can go and build a civilisation with libraries, the NHS, car factories and the Royal Mail in it.

The whole point is to try and use the least amount of labour possible in any one thing so that we can have lots and lots of lovely things from the labour available.

@37

From the article you link to

“Adam Crozier, the chief executive, takes home £3m a year. It is estimated that his money alone could save at least 167 post offices around Britain. Just to give you a perspective, last year, total profits at Royal Mail tallied £321m, that is almost one tenth of Crozier’s salary.”

I’m sure I’m being a mathematical dunce, but how is £3m ten times £321m?

Although, of course, I agree that Crozier’s salary is obscene.

Timbles,

I’m trying to grasp it all, I really am. I’m a TU sympathiser and a female, though, so the cognitive wheels turn slow… the thing is, A Crozier isn’t creating pretty things or jobs… so what is he creating, apart from postal posties?

Building a civilisation and an NHS with all the spare hands you talk about sounds a v nice idea and I’d certainly put a fiver towards it, but I thought we were knocking those things down at the moment, because the one percent of your two percent who are in charge of it all have spent the last ten years or so creating five-eights of fuck-all and had to come to us grinders in the fields to ask for more of our cabbages because they’d crapped all theirs and quite a few of ours down into a big, apparently bottomless, hole.

I guess my point is – why would distributing the cabbages more evenly in the first place be such a bad idea?

And cjcjc – surely all those small businesses you’re bleeding for spend most of their time these days queuing at banks, desperately trying to get cash for flow before they even try joining the line at the local Post Office – if there is a local Post Office?

Etc

#40

Well, that’s the extreme position.

The sensible position, that most people would hold, is that we want both. We want “lots of lovely stuff”, but we do want to create jobs, and we want stable jobs, because consumers are, for the most part, workers too, and job security is a good that most people value because it has a huge impact on their lives. We don’t want the kind of society where people are constantly being made redundant and constantly having to retrain – and where that does have to happen we want it to happen in the most humane way possible.

@43 – We don’t want the kind of society where people are constantly being made redundant and constantly having to retrain

But it does have to happen, because if it hadn’t happened we would all still be toiling in the fields or making carts for horses or using manual typewriters…

You cannot abolish technological progress.

It certainly has to happen humanely; but it has to happen.

“but we do want to create jobs,”

No we don’t. Imagine if we had some great big machine (it’s just a thought experiment) which at the push of a button once a year provided us with all of the goods and services we desired. We would then be in that happy Marxist state of being able to do as we wished. We could get a serious grip on the whole work/life balance. Give ourselves over entirely to the life of the family and the intellect.

Of course, such a machine doesn’t exist. Cannot, for desires are infinite. But jobs, as jobs themselves, are simply the boring shite we have to do in order to sate as many of those infinite desires as we can. Sure, we want those jobs to be as productive as possible, so that the labour of each of us contributes as much as possible to satiation of those desires: but having “more productive” jobs is exactly the same thing as saying “less human labour to perform a task”.

So what we’re actually trying to do is destroy jobs: if the mail can be delivered by 50,000 people instead of 100,000 people then we really do want to get rid of those 50,000 excess people in mail delivery so that they can go and do something else more productive. Anything else more productive: whether curing cancer or singing to their baby.

This is class war… the class war being waged by the corporate elite that actually runs the country against working people. Royal Mail management, with the complicity of the Government, have been slowly running Royal Mail into the ground for years.

A socialised national postal delivery service benefits the overwhelming majority of the population and is in the national interest. But it is not in the interests of corporate profit and therefore it has to be attacked, run down, dismantled and ultimately destroyed. And that is what is going on.

When will this country wake up?

And I will repeat what I said in another thread a couple of days ago: the CWU and other unions should start moves to disassociate themselves from the Labour Party. Why bankroll a party which is trying to jam a great big corporate stick up your backside? It defies reason.

@47 – you need to look at #37.

Even if (big if) the government wanted that, the EU would not allow it.
They have decreed that there must be competition.

46 – I sort of get the idea that creating jobs is a cost of a scheme, and that we only work because we have to. But I still have a conceptual difficulty with the practical meaning of this. In the most immediate sense, if 50,000 postmen are laid off they won’t automatically be able to go and get better, more improving jobs, or decide to concentrate on learning Portuguese – they’ll be unemployed. This surely isn’t a ‘good’ thing even in terms of economic theory?

#45

I agree with you, but Tim’s position is pretty extreme. Obviously he’s being provocative; I’m sure he wouldn’t call for jobs to be destroyed in election leaflets or in hustings appearances. I think we have a responsibility to manage progress so it happens in a humane and sustainable way. I don’t think it would be fair to ask a worker to retrain for a different job every year of their life, for example. I would be prepared to sacrifice some technological progress to making sure that doesn’t happen.

#49

Exactly – imagine if Royal Mail said “look, we can get this machine which can do this work, and we’ll need less people overseeing that than were needed actually doing the work, but the gradual process of bringing that in gives us opportunities to retrain our staff for other purposes to grow the business, while simultaneously paying them more and giving better hours & breaks”, do you think posties would be on strike?

51. Luis Enrique

Tim would be correct that all we should focus on is maximizing productivity, if a central authority existed that redistributed income to maximize social welfare, and there were no adverse special consequences of unemployment (for example, human capital deterioration, inter-generational transfer therein). So in reality it’s more accurate to say that we want to maximize some combination of productivity and employment – we have a trade off. But, also in reality, lots of people on the left wrongly believe that maximizing employment and resisting productivity gains is in the interest of workers; in fact the primary determinant of the real wage is productivity. It may also be the case that in practice the best way to maximize some combination of employment and productivity is to allow firms to pursue productivity and make workers redundant more or less at will, and rely on the consequent increase in real incomes to create new jobs. This story is supported by the facts. However, this story may break down in the context of particularly large employers making particularly large redundancies, and particularly economically stagnant localities, where it might be better to try and slow productivity-improving job losses.

“I think we have a responsibility to manage progress so it happens in a humane and sustainable way.”

Oh, sure. I’m all in favour of say the Danish approach: fire anyone you want whenever you want but there’s a decent social safety net and humoungous amounts of help with retraining and job finding.

Indeed, it’s one of the reasons I’m a citizen’s income supporter. It provides that very safety net while leaving the employment market as flexible as it possibly can be.

interesting debate, have to say i am fully on board with Tim’s arguments about modernisation.

I read that link in the other thread though, and that was also interesting. Completely annecdotal without real proof of what was being claimed from an obviously biased they point, but it was nice to see it from the posties side after all the rhetoric from the government and RM.

But is this the fault of the EU really tim? If we’re to believe roy mayall then why has the government been able to seemingly provide the RM as an at cost (or worse) distribution service for the private competition?

It simply isn’t adding up on either side, i feel both are keeping realities from this debate, and all the while i agree completely that it is the most self-damaging action imaginable, it makes no sense to strike unless the business model is going to drastically change.

If the reality is workers having too much work for too little say them i have sympathy. But modernisation is actually a solution to this problem, as long as the workers are willing to live in modern times and modernise themselves by retraining if they lose their job.

But the other reality is a tory and labour government that are commit to forgetting and criminalising these people, and shoving them off of benefits so the middle classes don’t cry too hard in to their daily mail.

So i guess we should support them, not because they’re actually 100% correct, but because this country isn’t set up for future realities, and without this kind of platform how can we change business processes, and government policy, on how to help there people when they ultimately do need to move on? But let’s not pretend that this support is going to result in all of them keeping their jobs and finding better conditions.

Shit. I must apologise.

Massive lapse on my part @38.

Though Crozier’s salary is obscene (especially given the circumstances), my figures were totally out of whack. I must have taken a subconscious leaf out of the Daily Mail’s book of (in)accurate information.

@34: “And I dearly hope people like Bob B have a watertight job, because one day someone may turn round and say that they want to modernise his workplace and sack Bob B and his colleagues because ‘Robots have replaced humans eleswhere’ and in the meantime his boss double his own bonus…etc etc”

The personal attacks only evade the issues relevant to the strike. What will count is not me or my sentiments or job security but how the big generators of parcel post respond to the strike and whether their diversion of business to rival operators stays more or less permanent when the strike has finished. Letters by snail mail are already losing out to email and no one is seriously proposing to abolish the Internet or ban email.

Thursday’s FT has a huge feature on postal services which includes instructive international comparisons. One of the insights is: “[The Royal Mail] is now estimated to be 40 per cent less efficient than European counterparts.”
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d93fd26c-be6d-11de-b4ab-00144feab49a.html

That’s the problem the management of Royal Mail is trying to address.

“[The Royal Mail] is now estimated to be 40 per cent less efficient than European counterparts.”

yet, apparently, its woes are all the EU’s fault. Something doesn’t add up.

“[Royal Mail] woes are all the EU’s fault”

The FT reporters are not claiming that.

“Go and support your postman tomorrow”

Or woman in my case.

@48 No I don’t. I am already aware of it.

51. You can only do that if your market grows faster than your productivity improvements. Letter delivery is no longer a growth industry.

Which means that the Mails market is unlikely to grow significantly, if at all.

Hello, for a moment i thought i was reading the daily mail online


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. SteveSmedley

    RT: @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  2. Steve Smedley

    RT: @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  3. Blue Bajja

    RT @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  4. sunny hundal

    RT @libcon: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  5. Pauline Godfrey

    RT @SteveSmedley: RT: @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  6. Siobhán Coleman

    RT@pickledpolitics RT @libcon: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  7. Mark Oxley

    Support your postie: http://tinyurl.com/yzkdx8s#

  8. Justin McKeating

    Go and support your postman tomorrow… http://is.gd/4uvwN

  9. josephjedwards

    Solidarity with the CWU. Any inconvenience this strike does me personally be damned – the postmen should and must win. http://is.gd/4uvwN

  10. Rooftop Jaxx

    UP THE POSTIES | RT @chickyog Go and support your post[person] tomorrow… http://is.gd/4uvwN

  11. jameskennell

    RT @RooftopJaxx: UP THE POSTIES | RT @chickyog Go and support your post[person] tomorrow… http://is.gd/4uvwN

  12. SteveSmedley

    RT: @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  13. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » Go and support your postman tomorrow -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, SteveSmedley. SteveSmedley said: RT: @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb […]

  14. Blue Bajja

    RT @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  15. sunny hundal

    RT @libcon: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  16. Pauline Godfrey

    RT @SteveSmedley: RT: @libcon: Article:: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  17. Siobhán Coleman

    RT@pickledpolitics RT @libcon: Go and support your postman tomorrow http://bit.ly/16Q5xb

  18. Mark Oxley

    Support your postie: http://tinyurl.com/yzkdx8s#

  19. Justin McKeating

    Go and support your postman tomorrow… http://is.gd/4uvwN

  20. josephjedwards

    Solidarity with the CWU. Any inconvenience this strike does me personally be damned – the postmen should and must win. http://is.gd/4uvwN

  21. Rooftop Jaxx

    UP THE POSTIES | RT @chickyog Go and support your post[person] tomorrow… http://is.gd/4uvwN





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.