Paper Free but not junk free

There is a certain amount of doublethink going on among workers at the Post Office. "Making private profit out of public services is just wrong" says Bill Hayes, General Secretary of the CWU. It now looks at if they will be joining British Airways in a joint Summer of Discontent.

Hang on a minute, Bill. Since when was the Post Office letters division a Public Service? When was the last time anybody received a meaningful communication via the Royal Mail, that could have been done electronically? The last important document to arrive at Weasel Hall was a Passport. And that was by Private Courier. The only thing we get from the postman these days is junk. Day after day after day. These days, posties are in reality, highly paid leaflet distributors, and, forgive me If I am mistaken here, but this aspect of the Post Office is done entirely for commercial reasons and is highly profitable. It benefits nobody but the Post Office and perhaps also the companies who use this method of marketing, which apparently raises £67 billion in sales. Hardly what you could call a "public service", though, is it? Getting details of Twofers at Somerfield? Do me a favour.

I have used one postage stamp this month, and that was to the DVLA, another behemoth that finances itself from, among other things, extorting money- in fines- from people whose paperwork gets lost in their system or the postal system.

Now I know that there are businesses that rely upon the Royal Mail at present, but most of the commercial services, such as direct mail, are done by private firms anyway. I don't buy the argument that if the Royal Mail letters division was sold off, the service would deteriorate or disappear. Even if the cost of sending a letter increased fivefold, it would not be a big deal to most people. Any company that is still sending mass mail-outs by post should take a serious look at its business model and learn about the World Wide Web.

As for parcels, they seem to me to be far more efficiently handled by private couriers. That is my experience. Many small scale firms I deal with have given up on the Royal Mail, simply because they are so unreliable.

Taken in the context of the British Airways dispute, any strike action by Postal Workers looks nothing more than the last gasp attempt of the former and soon to be former publicly owned dinosaurs to hang on to working practices that have no place in today's world. The commercial sector has stripped waste to the bone, so why should taxpayers be conned into supporting an anachronistic throwback to a bygone era?


Idle Pen Pusher said...

Damn right, WW. But, on a technicality, I can't see how the Royal Mail isn't a public service. It's a service. It's open to the public. That phrase is just one of a long list that the left use to obfuscate what is really meant.

It's not free at the point of use: customers have to pay. It's a 'public service' in the same way that Vodafone is. It's not a public service like the NHS or municipal parks are.

postman pat said...

You've not mentioned the EU.
The Royal Mail ticked along fine for decades. Making enough to provide a service over the whole of the UK and providing decent jobs to thousands. Investing in new technology as progress was made in electronic parcel and mail checking processes.
Then the EU rules had to be implemented. All the profitable inner city postal routes were taken over by DHL etc and the less popular ( but mandatory routes ) were left with Royal Mail. DHL etc actually pay Royal Mail to complete the last mile or so of some of their deliveries as it's ridiculously cheaper than them bothering to do it themselves.
The post office had to give up on it's monopoly of handing out pensions and car tax etc. So as post offices were losing revenue due to the govt implementing EU rules and removing services the govt started closing them down as they weren't profitable. A bit of a Catch 22 really.
With the coalition planning to totally privatise Royal Mail the remote routes will lose their deliveries and the sub post offices will close down being replaced by Spar and Co op doing the same service. It's probably for the best as the post office is no longer fit for function. Suffering death by a thousand cuts and years of indifference and neglect.
Visit a post office sorting office then visit a DHL sorting office. It's like going from steam trains to the japanese bullet train.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Well put, Postman Pat. I can understand your frustration, as it does seem as if the Post Office has to some extent been sabotaged by outside agencies. However, some of the sabotage has been done by the postal workers themselves who were not flexible enough, compared to the public sector.

I am afraid their is not a strong case for remote deliveries. I already pay a premium for living 15 miles South of Edinburgh! If someone on Benbecula is missing out, I dare say they are lucky, since 95% of mail delivered is direct marketing anyway. I really don't see that cessation of deliveries to the door, in this day and age, is a big issue.

I just happen to think your job has largely been superceded by technology and progress. After all, why should I drive to the Post Office, queue, then be told my MOT is about to run out and they won't issue it, etc, when I can order it online, pay for it online and one day, presumably, print it off or do away with a piece of paper stuck to the windscreen altogether?

postman pat said...

Yes you're right WW. Unions have made the transition to modern deliveries and flexible working quite difficult. The Spar and Co op will probably take over the role of community hub when the sub post offices are closed down. The only losers will be pensioners I suppose who aren't internet savvy and rely on conventional mail deliveries in remote areas and trips to the post office to catch up with what's happening in the community.
The ethos of dedicated community service and integrity have left most other part of society so the post office shouldn't expect any special trreatment.