Postal workers vote to strike

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As expected, postal workers have voted to strike in their dispute with Royal Mail over pay and working conditions. 77% of those voting were in favour of industrial action. CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said that no date had yet been set for action: by law, the union must give RM at least seven days’ notice before striking.

Mr Ward said that “the threat to the very future of your postal services is real.” Workers have rejected a below-inflation 2.5% pay offer from RM, demanding instead a 27% increase over the next five years to bring pay up to the national average. However, talks between the union and management are still continuing: Mr Ward said that workers would give RM “a further opportunity to back off from their cuts and come back to the negotiating table with a fresh approach.”

FSB trade and industry chairman, Clive Davenport said that a strike could be very damaging for small businesses: “Small businesses would be hardest hit by this dispute. A cheque delayed in the post can mean the difference between life and death for a small business, which means that this strike cannot be allowed to go ahead.”

If only it were that simple.

5 Responses

  1. I know it sounds a bit harsh on the posties but don’t they realise that by definition *someone* has to earn below average by definition?? If everyone that earnt less than the average went on strike the whole country would be taking the summer off on unpaid holiday 🙁

    They should be justifying their wage increases based on the business – whether that be as a nationalised industry subsidised by the government or as a privatised industry competing on an equal footing with competitors. Whinging about a “national average” is a sadly mistaken stance to take.

  2. I doubt you would win any points on that argument Chris, no one wants to be the one that limits the floor on the national average do they. But I do take the point that the supposed national average wage isn’t realistic anyways as what is deemed the average level, to most would actually be a rather good salary. It would be far more realistic to average salaries out across job sectors as opposed to trying to align wages to a single national average where the low paid will look very low and the highest paid just artificially raise the average.

    However in defence of the Royal Mail, the service that this company provides does under pin or at least participate in the infrastructure of the vast majority of small businesses in the UK and therefore this is a service that we cannot afford to lose. A below inflation rise does seem unfair, especially inlight of the relevant turn around in fortunes for the company over the last 12 months BUT a 27% increase over the next 5 years seems unrealistic too.

    Fact is like any company (manufacture or service), one has to self analyse ones own efficiencies. Modern business these days have been and continue to be about lean transformation. Through the systematic removal of waste (or muda as coined by our Japanese friends) so the cost of operations reduces and envariable the quality of service and efficiences increase. From what I have read recently RM have concentrated new efforts on diversifying their services offered which may look great on the P/L sheet once these services are taken up but the company needs to be sure that new efforts do not distract away from the core function of the business and the cost involved in producing it.

  3. You misunderstand me – In order for no one to earn less than the national average everyone would have to earn exactly the same. Surely some jobs are worth a higher salary as they demand either more hours, more work or more qualifications to perform? By definition some earning more means some will earn less than the average.

    Now if the posties WERE awarded a pay deal giving them the national average as of today, as soon as they got their pay rise the national average would rise and so they’d be below it again. In fact you could carry on in that manner until posties were amongst the highest paid in the country, at which time some other group would start complaining they earn less than the average. As soon as that group got a pay rise posties would once again be paid below the national average and so want another pay hike.

    An average is a meaningless figure and so basing a pay rise on it is also meaningless. A job should be paid according to it’s worth and that’s how they should justify any pay rises.

    It’s a different debate to argue what posties should earn, whether they deserve more remuneration for the work they do (to which the answer is probably yes) and also if they should be fully privatised or run as a public concern subsidised by taxation.

    Finally of course who’s to say some posties don’t deserve more pay than others? Some almost certainly work harder and a few may be right slackers. It’s about time they were paid on results and performance and the offer of a bonus at a local level is a step in the right direction.

  4. Your math doesn’t quite work out there Chris, eventually they would rise above the national average and thus stop asking for more money (unless all those above them raise by the same token), still I can understand what you are saying.

    Competition is the way forwards, by its very nature it drives for efficiency in process and ultimately the best competitor wins out, which is one of the reasons I secretly hope for a serious competitor to eBay. If nothing else it may return some of its focus back towards the customer (and not towards the shareholders). Well, one can hope anyways.

    I might dip in here from time to time….it sounds interesting….

    Thanks mate


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