This is a letter sent to the Swindon Advertiser
Why we should support the Postal Workers
The dispute that is currently taking place at Royal Mail is not the result of postal workers being bloody minded. They are defending their interests in the face of a bullying management which wants to manage by dictat and to break the power of the CWU.
Behind these dictatorial management methods, though, lies the process of ‘liberalisation’ of Postal Services introduced as a result of European Union legislation. Unfortunately the current government was so enthusiastic about liberalisation that it introduced it earlier than legislation required it to do.
The idea that competition would improve the service was always nonsense. Experience has proved it to be the case. Before the PO was commercialised it actually made a suplus. But ‘sharpening up’ in the face of competition has produced an unrealiable service. You never know at what time of the day your post is going to arrive. The ‘competition’ in the industry is in any case rigged. Royal Mail has to deliver the post of its competitors in the ‘last mile’.
Liberalisation is a threat to the ‘universal service obligation’ which ensures that we pay the same price for post however far it has to travel. Unrestricted competition would mean that the private companies would only carry out work which gave them a profit. But Royal Mail is supposed to provide a public service. Whilst the Royal Mail has not yet been privatised, liberalisation has meant that the work is being privatised.
Members of the public judge the service by its quality and reliability. Private companies judge only by the money they make. Royal Mail management in trying to drive up ‘productivity’ only judges this by the balance sheet, not the quality of the service to the public.
The ballot of CWU members for national strike action is against management by dictat. But in the long term the public service can only be assured by campaigning to end liberalisation. Royal Mail should be a public service. Its efficiency should be measured by the quality and realiability of the service.
This is why service users should support the postal workers because they are not only defending themselves but also the quality of the service they provide. Many people have opposed the closure of local Post Offices. The closure programme was a direct result of liberalisation and the drive to make Royal Mail a profit-making business.
The CWU and its members are the only obstacle in the way of Royal M management providing a worse service as money making is placed above the interests of customers and the quality of the service that staff are able to provide. The staff deserve the widest support from trades unionists and the public in general.
Secretary, Swindon TUC