"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Royal Mail

Coming home to the news that one of the ways that the present Government is going to beat the deficit is by selling off their remaining 30% share in the Royal Mail led to these musings, which  I have noted down!

Over my lifetime there have always been one or more postmen in my family. So I truly know what a lot there is to the job. The old jokes about getting bitten by dogs are really not funny. Those people who wonder why postmen wear shorts into the depth of the winter are always surprised at the real reason - well would you like to wear soaking wet LONG trousers when doing a walk [round] on one of those days when the rain falls in sheets, non-stop?

One doesn't have to be a postman to recognise the horrors of awkward letter boxes: too high, too low, too sprung, too narrow, the ones where a dog leaps to trap your fingers. The remarks that customers make: 'Postman, take care not to scratch my car' [OK, you may own a Bentley, but why would a postman be more likely to scratch it than anyone in a public car park?]; complaints that although their property is flooded to a depth of four foot the householder really cannot understand why the postman is refusing to deliver. And more.

Postmen get up early. They don't complain very often. They get complaints over things they can't possibly help - like senders of letters not putting enough stamps on the envelope so the recipient needs to pay a surcharge. The improperly wrapped parcel/package that has not arrived in good condition. The improperly wrapped parcel/package which 'burst' in the sorting office one Christmas and showered [deliberate pun] all the parcels and packages below it in the 'cage' with bath oil.

Postmen nowadays particularly don't like getting complaints about all these new delivery service providers who are not as fastidious as Royal Mail and don't give such as good a service. Its useless explaining that these companies are nothing to do with the Royal Mail, that the sell off that the Coalition Government authorised means that these companies can now operate to their own rules -which may not be as stringent as those of the Royal Mail. 

F'r instance today I received two parcels at different times, delivered by two different delivery providers. Some days I have received four parcels delivered by four different delivery providers. It doesn't need much wit to realise that all these vans chuntering up and down my road are using four times as much fossil fuels and polluting the air four times as much as necessary if only the one delivery system was used. A lot of the delivery drivers not employed by the Royal Mail are [a] not trained [b] on zero hour contracts [c] due to [b] do not have a pension plan. These companies have to make savings if they are to offer their clients a cheaper, if not as good, service than Royal Mail. Despite this, in the past year the City Link delivery service company was put into administration, which employed over 2700 people. Furthermore, and just last month, a mail delivery firm, Whistl - which was formerly TNT post - was reported to be in difficulties. So are we to gather that running a cheaper service than the Royal Mail is not only undesirable, it is also unprofitable?

So, backtracking a bit, let's go to the first 'go' at Privatisation of the Royal Mail by the 2010 Coalition Government. This took place in 2013, under the aegis of the then Business Minister, Vince Cable, who was subsequently accused by the National Audit Office of selling the Royal Mail shares too cheaply, losing taxpayers millions when share prices rose 70% higher than their original 2013 sale price.

If the remaining 30% is to be sold, those of us who deplore privatisation are going to voice our concerns. My biggest concern is that when any public service is privatised we can be sure that less profitable parts of that service will be quietly dropped or made out of all reason expensive. So those post boxes in far flung post codes may find they have to pay a surcharge to get their mail delivered, for instance. Post code lottery may assume a different meaning.

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