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The Vote

Is the Communication Workers Union to blame for the postal strike?

Published on October 22nd 2009.


The Vote
Yes: - 44%
No: - 56%

The damn postal strike.

But who is to blame?

The Communication Workers Union's (CWU) who’ve called the two day strike starting today can sniff a conspiracy.

The union's deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, said the government and senior Royal Mail management were working together to stop an agreement being reached. Quoted in the Guardian he said: "The real truth behind this dispute is that Lord Mandelson, in cahoots with people running the company, clearly feel it is payback time because we defeated them on their proposals on privatisation."

Meanwhile Billy Hayes, the union's general secretary, is reported as calling Mandelson "the minister without responsibility" who "wants to wash his hands in this dispute".

Most people will probably have forgotten what the dispute is about. So here it is. It’s about new working practices, about new sorting machines, about possible redundancies, about that word ‘modernisation’. For the Union and its staggering 130,000 members it’s about not being consulted on these issues.

According to a press release from 50 prominent socialist thinkers, which included Labour MPs, the government has been "sulking on the sidelines because they couldn't get their part-privatisation through and have now washed their hands of the whole thing. The Post Office is an essential, publicly owned utility and it is the government's duty to ensure it is run well."

Back to Ward who maintains the union is prepared to compromise over new sorting machines. "We know we can't stop the machines coming," he said as though he were Morpheus in the Matrix. But his union feels it has a right to be consulted over changes of work practice and modernisation. What he doesn’t want is for the CWU to be seen as jealously guarding employment rights which allow postal workers to bunk off early.

Meanwhile the Royal Mail management led by chief executive Adam Crozier, seeks to run the business as it sees fit. It sees the modernisation of practices and procedures as inevitable, even crucial to the survival of the service. An attempt to privatise the service this time around has been denied. As management can we really fault them for wanting to run the service their way?

But many post workers feel they have little to lose with the strikes as many feel they may well be about to lose their jobs anyway. Or that the new conditions will be so poor on their relatively poor wages as to make them leave Royal Mail.At the same time contracts are bleeding away from the service as it gains a reputation for unreliability. The Scottish Government awarded a £17m contract for second class mail to TNT on Wednesday; one of many companies to have recently deserted the service.

So what do you think? Is this the last manoeuvring of a dinosaur union? Are the CWU fighting to prevent the untimely death of Royal Mail? Is the management right to seek to run the service as they see fit?

What is certain is that people and businesses who depend on the post will be the ones suffering as a backlog builds and delays in delivery become longer and longer.

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49 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ADOctober 22nd 2009.

The CWU are more than a little out of touch, with so many private sector employees finding themselves out of work over the last year why should the general public have sympathy for a bunch of people looking to preserve their pay, pensions and comfortable conditions at everyone elses expense.

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

These jobs must be protected regardless of the fact there won't be any work for the employees to do. Royal Mail needs to hold back all technical progress and cost cutting, what are they thinking of? It should remain that posties can bunk off early whilst still getting paid, we're losing too many British traditions. This all needs to be funded by tax increases to higher earners. People in the private sector need to realise that public sector workers are far more important and their rights, pay rises and pension pots need to be protected at times like these. Let's face it, public sector workers are the only ones in steady jobs and still getting pay rises, any altering of this could see spending drop in the ratail and leisure markets which is unthinkable. Any talk of altering pension pots is simply cruel, some public sector workers are married to private sector workers who don't have pension pots, they will need to support them in retirement. All this 'I'm alright Jack' behaivour from the management is uncalled for, the postal workers have rights they have long cherished and these need to be ring fenced, the public will understand.

MikeOctober 22nd 2009.

You took the words right out of my mouth Cas. I've noticed that my mail has been getting later and later over the past couple of years. I'ts not a complaint, i'm in fact glad that they're able to have a lie-in whilst us mere mortals are up early and heading to work.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

This kind of thing has to stop, I mean whatever next; will the armed forces start demanding compensation because war turns out to be a bit scary?

NoMoreInsideJobsOctober 22nd 2009.

Well done to the strikers for protecting their jobs , conditions and industry. The Royal Mail could save more money by not employing so many useless managers on huge salaries.Why are so many people prepared for the basic divide and rule private/public worker dichotomy ? The UK is becoming a more and more unequal society.

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

NoMoreInsideJobs says: 'Well done to the strikers for protecting their jobs' - have you missed something here? Let me make this really simple; Some bright spark invented the internet and since then the volume of post has dropped and keeps dropping. To add to this a machine has come in which can do part of the job of a Postie, and it doesn't take 21 sick days a year. This will lead to job losses. In the private sector if a loss of trade means you now need 5 less people to do a job then they are made redundant. The private/public sector divide here being that in the public sector it's near impossible to get rid of them and the rest of us pay for it. Surely even you can see that this action isn't going to drive those businesses, who are fast dropping the Royal Mail, back!

cynicalcyrilOctober 22nd 2009.

I have great sympathy with the postal workers striking for better pay, conditions and a say in working practices as they provide a Universal postal service! I am not impressed with the contributors who are somehow blaming those public sector workers for the ills that have befallen the private sector. Those in the private sector have been enjoying the fruits of this economic illusion for the best part of 10 years. I half thought that AD was referring to the overpaid bankers and financiers rather than a union representing its workforce. In the private sector where bonuses are paid for reaching targets no one complains. The CEO, Adam Crozier gets his £3million bonus and pay package every year and no one bats an eyelid. Paying out for those workers who expect a pension and its all a joke. All you workaholics noticing the post is being delivered later must leave the house later than me, or maybe you just work from home making your money selling crap on eBay and paying a tiny amount compared to the private mail courier vultures. I doubt the armed forces would go on strike for more money but maybe for better equipment, why don’t we follow the USA's example and privatise them? I doubt any posties would say it’s a cushy job but if workers want protection in their workplace from unfair demands - why don’t they join a union? The machines are working well, apparently sorting up to 65 million letters/parcels a day. But someone has to deliver them! First class post is 39p for next day delivery. One can’t even buy a can of pop for that! It wasnt too long ago that Mandy wanted to privatise the whole system but couldnt find a buyer. Probably because the private companies dont want to afford a universal postal service. When will we learn that divide and rule negatively affects society? Not while you jokers obey the immoral code of greed.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

I'm sick to death of hearing people slag off public sector workers on this site, making out they live in some kind of la la land of high pay packets and job security. If it's so cushy in the public sector, why don't you go and work there? Is it because you'll find it more challenging, stressful, and lower paid than the private sector? A lot of public sector workers don't have job security - they're on short term contracts. And rather than whinging about them having more employment rights than you, how about joining a union and standing up for your own?

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

People in the public sector seem lose touch with economic reality. I have friends in the public sector and their wages and terms are well in line with their private sector peers. They take unchallenged sick days and arrive late to work and are rarely held to account for their mistakes. And don't even get me started on teachers. The 2nd day back after the summer holidays the school shut for a teacher training day!!! What do they expect all the millions of parents working in the private sector to do, call in sick like they would?

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

If you repeatedly were drunk for work in the private sector what would happen? If you weren't Gordo? This is what happens when a nurse does it www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/1162343_drunken_nurse_swigged_sherry_on_duty…

ALL GOOD NEWSOctober 22nd 2009.

860 BILLION OF DEBT,,, AN ILLEGAL WAR ,,, CRIME WAVE , PRISONS FULL ,,, 5 MILLION NOT WORKING , TAX INCREASES AND MORE ON THE WAY !!! HMMMM NOW STRIKE SEASON , REMINDS ME OF 1979 ,,, BYE BYE NEW LABOUR BRING ON THE CONSERVATIVES TO SORT THIS SOCIALIST MESS OUT ,, ALL OVER AGAIN !!!!

Simon TOctober 22nd 2009.

WHY DO TORIES HAVE TO SHOUT,,,,AND PUT COMMAS EVERY,,,WHERE!!! If only we'd had 'socialism' we wouldn't have been in this mess. What we've had over the last 12 years has been about as far from socialism as Ted Heath; we've had unfettered markets, big business pulling the strings, the Republicans in the USA organising our foreign policy, and a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Blair and then Brown can be accused of a lot of things but not 'socialism'.

Simon TOctober 22nd 2009.

WHY DO TORIES HAVE TO SHOUT,,,,AND PUT COMMAS EVERY,,,WHERE!!! If only we'd had 'socialism' we wouldn't have been in this mess. What we've had over the last 12 years has been about as far from socialism as Ted Heath; we've had unfettered markets, big business pulling the strings, the Republicans in the USA organising our foreign policy, and a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Blair and then Brown can be accused of a lot of things but not 'socialism'.

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

That's the thing with socialists, always repeating themselves.

Simon TOctober 22nd 2009.

Tories don't like having to think hard, you have to persist in case they don't get it the first time. Either that or this page refresh thing gets me everytime.

alexOctober 22nd 2009.

After an internal battle with my socialist principals, I'm afraid I think the Union is letting down its workers by striking when the RM is struggling to define its future in this digital age. Echoes of Scargil taking the miners out in springtime when demand for coal is low and thus bringing about the demise of a noble industry and shattering a community.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

The real point is that the mail market must be fully open to competition by 2012 because the EU says so.Parcels are already open to full competition and that why I am always opening the door for three different courier companies a day. Bulk mail collection and distribution to RM delivery offices in already open to competition and RM has lost most of it. Post Office Counters has lost a lot of the government business which they had a monopoly on, sometimes to the web and sometimes to competitors. (pay you gas bill in the newsagents when you buy you fags). (So given the rest to the banks? or the supermarkets?What remains is the last mile delivery of bulk post, and handling individual letters and small packages to anywhere in the UK in twelve hours. Evenfor this, there are licensed operators using W.H Smith for example who offer a service at a price.It falls to P Mandelson and K Clark to fix how to do it...... or do we do without... collect you mail from the Delivery Office or have a delivery one a week from whoever you hire to collect it (notice I think competition is for the recipient not the sender)Cas could really help us by telling us what Ken Clark would do. We know PM would sell RM lock stock and barrel (to the Dutch?) But the second question is what form the service should take or do you want it at all?All the talk, slagging of the posties is neither here or there.The EU has done for them but don't stop... after all they a mostly a respectable part of the White Working Class who quite a few people here actually hate (but of course not Nick Griffin)

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

well what's the answer to Royal Mails problems? Or now the public is supporting the employees, a fudge will follow but the issue remains and watch for a repetition near the election.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

My thoughts are these, there is a credit crunch on at the moment, there are thousands of people on the dole, the workers are shooting themselves in the foot, there are plenty of vultures ready to take Royal Mail jobs and I think that the public will not back them for going on strike just before Christmas. I for one am changing the company I use to DHL and feel when people are up against it they will use any company to serve the purpose.I think that we are to quick to strike and with the buses on strike every Monday we are losing faith in our services, fast.Get it sorted as quick as you can, if not Royal Mail may lose all Customers.

scoteeeOctober 22nd 2009.

The answer like any successful business in tough times is to stream line the business, cut costs and cut staff.Find cheaper methods to do what the competition appears to be so readily achieving.Royal mail needs investment to change it's system of sorting and delivery to a better and cheaper method then it can cut back.The danger is that the current set up has been mis-managed for so long it has damaged the Royal mail's present and future ability to operate competetively.Without change the Dutch may well own our Royal Mail.

BarryOctober 22nd 2009.

I have never known a set of workers try so hard to lose themselves contracts, orders, customers and consequently their own jobs.Every time they strike or disrupt the mail service in any way it is one more nail in the coffin of Royal Mail. They are playing into the hands of privateers who are laughing in the faces of Royal Mail workers. Once RM becomes a private company (which it inevitably will do because they are helping to do it) they will suddenly realise that they have thrown away their best chance of retaining their present pay structure and will end up on minimum wages with far Less benefits than they have at the moment. Private companies are stealing their RM jobs on a daily basis and they are helping them to do it. Strikes ALWAYS end up costing a company jobs and contracts. No one wins. RM workers are FOOLS to themselves. In a time of recession they should be thankful they have a job at all.Barry Miller....Leyland, Lancs

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

My Partner is a Postie, he is only able to get partime hours, we have been waiting 2 years to get full time( so he has another partime job so we can mke ends meet, (and yes he has tried to get full time work!) We couldnt afford to strike last week but luckily it was his day off, I thought management would have asked if he wanted to work, they didnt, all they did the following day was say he would have to take out more to get the back log shifted. they dont adhere to the health and saftey standards which they seem to spend so much time & money setting up!The technology they keep bleating on about looks good, but its not going to stomp your streets in all conditions, carrying shitloads of post parcels and other crap that gets shoved through your letter box, the amount of post bags I have cluttering my hallway drying out on a dily basis does not indicte to me the decline in post, my partner recently passed a driving course, he assumed that he would get the opportunity to apply for driving job in the futureagain there would be a sting in the tail, what they have planned is to get rid of a driver, my partner would then take the van and another collegue, and shedloads more post and parcels (because they provide van so they can fill as much as they want) for exactly the same pay and hours, they expect him to work overtime at the moment for NO pay, who does that and who can fford to do that ?? because we cant, we cant afford to strike but we also can afford to stay as we are, waiting for the axe to fall in limbo whilste the top dogs give themself big annual bonuses and then say they will have to tighten the purse strings, whats that saying about horse and bolting?think what you like but they are not all lazy slapped arses, of course there are some that are just taking advantage of a day off work, just dont tar them all with the same brush ( oh I full of little anecdotes ould look more impressive if I could remember them all and spell!

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

I can imagine how frustrating it must be to have a psotie as a partner. They always come at a time to suit themselves and rarely deliver.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

Ha cant argue, funny, I like that one. the uniform aint that great either!

scoteeeOctober 22nd 2009.

@anonymous. If the public sector wishes to compete with national/international competition it must accept that as a business service it must to behave like one.The very fact that RM happens to be a public sector facility is nothing more than unfortunate.Government funding and taxpayers money should'nt really be part of a badly managed business which fundamentally is what it has become.If postal workers don't like their pay and conditions they have the same rights as the private sector.Get out and find another job.Eventually the the poor standards so readily claimed will soon be filled with unemployed workers who need a job.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

I agree it's badly managed, and it's a real shame that the bad management in this dispute isn't talked about a little more. My point is that if everyone is laying people off, unemployment grows, hitting the economy, hitting the recovery, hitting the pockets of the people who are left in work. The public sector, yes, should be efficient, but also has a vital role to play in helping to secure the recovery by not applying the same scorched earth policy that business - through necessity - has to do in a climate like this. To repeat myself, what's good for the business isn't good for the sacked employee or the economy. And to amplify that a little bit, in the long term it is good for the economy as it means the business can survive and rebuild when the good times come again. but in the short term it's bad for the economy and it's in that place that the public sector can play a part to keep jobs secure, keep people in work, and help the economy limp through. Don't forget that the public sector is the biggest employer in the UK and has a privileged position.

ChickOctober 22nd 2009.

Just a quick point @ Anon. Thing is the public sector is not just working hard to try an keep people in employment, it is THE ONLY sector of the economy that is currenly growing and recruiting more people. Every time I deal with HMCR or the IR, the correspondence I receive is from different people, in different departments, in different offices in different parts of the country. Not one of them having communicated with another

scoteeeOctober 22nd 2009.

I disagree anon,restructuring a business model which initially sheds jobs can and in a lot of cases does, for the long term, create more jobs.Its just a painfull pill to have to swallow.The facts are that the government sold out to privatising some areas of the service and now wont back up it's financial inastute mess.The RM would not be sustainable without huge investment,something that a lot of the public sector workers may argue is better spent elsewhere.Do I want my mail today or my daughter's heart transplant? Not a toughy really,when you consider that covering up bad decisions has to go hand in hand with picking up the pieces.

Royal mailOctober 22nd 2009.

Royal Mail - Mail sorter positions Add General warehouse duties, you will be required to work as part of a team in different sections of the North West Regional Distribution Centre based in Sankey, Warrington. You will be responsible for the day to day distribution of mail. Various different shifts available. Please note all candidates will be subject to a thorough ve ... moreLocation: Warrington, Cheshire • Salary: £5.8 - £8.8 per hour • Company: ManpowerManpowerCompany vacancies...Company profile... • Job type: Temporary • Date posted: 21/10/2009

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

@ the public sector manager, how dare you assume what EL's working style or ethic is like from a couple of lines of text. How pathetic. To say you'd get paid a third more in the private sector is quite frankly utter utter rubbish, perhaps you can explain that one to us all?

scoteeeOctober 22nd 2009.

Erm, by proxy springs to mind Cas?

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

Sorry, scotee, don't get that. May be my head still trying to clear after an ill advised visit to panacea though!

OOctober 22nd 2009.

@ Cas.... To say you'd get paid a third more in the private sector is quite frankly utter utter rubbish.... how can you say that to someone, not knowing what they do or how much they get paid? I'm astounded by that comment and you astound me often on here. I too work for a public sector organisation and can confirm that if I did the same job for a private company I would be paid at least a third more. I'm not complaining though don't get me wrong, I'd rather have less money and a job that I like than be worried about redundancy, but your comment... without question, one of your best yet. Is there anything that you won't argue about?

casOctober 22nd 2009.

It's a commonly trotted out line this crap about public sector workers being paid less. O, as I said to the other poster, can you enlighten us as I'm sure I'm not the only onw who thinks this. This is an anonymous forum, so it would do no harm to tell us your job, pay, benefits and what you would in the private sector.

OOctober 22nd 2009.

Cas, are you a bit slow???? I actually just laughed out loud. You expect me to tell you where I work what I do and what I am paid? Why on earth would I want to do that? To prove 'cas' wrong on Man Con? Just accept that that you have been told you are wrong by someone that knows better than you in this particular instance. I wouldn't have said it if wasn't true would I. I accept that there probably wouldn't be a job for me in the private sector in the current climate and if there was, competition would be fierce and I would run the risk of being made redundant, hence I stay here for a third less. That's true. You can argue with that if you like, but your are wrong.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

Cas, ever thought it's commonly trotted out because it's true?

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

Why not? If I'm so slow, boring, stupid or whatever insult you feel like throwing at me today, then what is so bizarre about coming up with actual facts? If you don't want to tell me about your lofty self then use other examples. However to come on here and state public sector workers are paid a third less and then scoff when I dare to ask for proof is a bit lame. If it's so true and I'm so wrong then explain.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2009.

Public sectors workers paid a third less? You're having a laugh, it ain't 1972.

OOctober 22nd 2009.

Cas, again, you've been told. Accept it or not, I couldn't care less. It's nothing to do with my lofty self, I'm not saying I should be on more, I'm just stating a fact that I could be and would be in a private firm. Why you or any of these other people got a problem with that? As I said earlier, I'm not complaining. As far as 'other examples' are concerned, what can I tell you? I'm not here to specualte on what others earn, I couldn't care less. I'll let you worry about that with your dozens of rants on here.

Wage SlaveOctober 22nd 2009.

Seems like Cas could be correct, I too am sick of these public sector slaves thinking they're doing us all a favour. I take it we're paying you to come on here and tell us you get paid less? Anyway: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that weekly median pay in the public sector in 2004 was about 3.5% greater than in private sector businesses. Factor in private sector workers’ longer hours and the public sector actually pays an extra 17% per hour. - and telling anyone they've 'been told' without backing it up sounds a bit desperate. So O you are the master keeper of facts and if you say something it makes it true? Despite your inability to back it up at all. You're not the only one laughing out load.

Wage SlaveOctober 22nd 2009.

'loud', obviously.

JayneyBabyOctober 22nd 2009.

Editor, this is another rant taken over by the manconfidential 'clique', it will go round and round and round and bore my very existence to death. Can you turn this one off as well?

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

Jayneybaby, I disagree on this one. It's an actual debate, I don't mind being called slow because someone can't back their argument up. The public sector/ private sector pay divide is something that is irritating people in reference to the postal strike. And Jayneybaby if you're honest you post here as much as many of the 'clique'. ;)

ADOctober 22nd 2009.

Low paid and mid level paid Public sector workers earn more per hour than their private sector equivelents. Or so said the former HM Treasury economist speaking at a conference I was at the other day... He went on to show that unless your in the top 1% - ie very top level management you wont earn more in the private sector. Public sector workers do better and on top of that get acces to much better pensions than the majority of the private sector.

OOctober 22nd 2009.

OK for the last time... I can only relate public / private sector wages to my job and that is all I have ever said. Wage Slave, I only said I laughed out loud at the request to disclose my wages etc. I do enjoy posting on here when there is a debate to be had or when I care, but on this one I couldn't care less what anyone thinks of the money I am paid or not paid. I can't win anyway.. even if I told you I was an I.T expert working for Mcr City Council on £30k a year (non of that is true) and had seen the same job working for a blue chip company for £39k (don't know if that is true as I know nothing about I.T) Cas or someone else would say, show me the job advert. So eben if that situation was true, I've not got the time or inclination to go to that much effort with a bunch of people I couldn't care less about. For me, you can all lose your jobs and never receive a piece of post again. really, why do I care? Argue amongst yourselves. I'm with Janey Babey, this 'debate' is just goign round and round.

OOctober 22nd 2009.

BUT... saying that, Wage Slave does have a point (even though he/she quotes figures from 2004)... when you take into consideration that I work 7 hour flexidays now whereas when I worked for a private firm I was clocking in and out like a robot, that 17% an hour sounds feasable. As I said though, I'm not complaining and never was. Money isn't everything. I'm not on a bad wage anyway.

CasOctober 22nd 2009.

O, you come on here and personally attack me often for daring to take part in debates and posting often - yet you're all over the site too if you're honest. You said you would earn a third more in the private sector, which I personally don't think is true, that's my opinion and the above stats seem to back that up. You then called me slow for asking you to back it up. I'm glad you enjoy your job but the public sector does seem a bit like a gravy train to us private sector workers and it's obviously irritating when they claim to be paid a third less for the same jobs.

ChickOctober 22nd 2009.

Love the way all these public sector workers can spend time on a web site defending their jobs and wages. Or are you all using your good old flexi-time allowances?

OOctober 22nd 2009.

Cas, it seems like a gravy train? That doesn't even make sense, I started this job years before the recession. What, you want me to feel guilty that I've got certain level of job security? I couldn't care less what you believe, or about the 'above stats'. They are that; stats. I know my situation. Better than you or anyone else knows it too. Am I really on here as much as you? That's frightening. I'll be becoming the new 'Cas'. I better stop posting.

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