Friday, 30 October 2009

Postal strike has dire consequences for Royal Mail

The recently enacted industrial action from postal workers has been an unacceptable and regressive step taken by those trying to force better conditions in sorting offices and on daily postal rounds. Whether or not their demands are justified, and by the evidence given they may well be overworked as compared to years gone by, their decision to strike is one which takes no consideration for its true consequence in terms of their future employment.

Strike action, when taken in a service which actually affects a large number of people, is often met with harsher criticism than strikes in less integral industries. People feel aggrieved that they, the consumer, are forced to be dragged into industrial disputes. This is something particularly relevant to business owners, especially those who in this case may not be able to afford to outsource their postal requirements. So strike action in these important areas must be taken with the most stringent and careful considerations, realising that whether their demands are justified is not the only article of relevance to those effected. This postal strike has been underlined firmly by negativity in most circles, and a lack of interest in its actual objectives. Most newspaper headlines have been more obsessed with the replacement of the striking workers with temporary staff, or even scouts, and with the problems that the action has caused, rather than any reflection on the aims of those involved.

In my opinion this action is ill-judged, at a time of economic recession when people are less likely to immediately feel sympathy for those who have employment, and especially if such workers effect others economically through their actions, something which many small business owners will claim to be the case. The general public consensus does not seem to be in favour, whether because of increasing lack of interest in trade unionism amongst today's public, or because of short-term circumstances, but either way it seems that this decision to strike is not productive. However more damning than a lack of public sympathy is the future business ramifications for the post office. This is an industry seriously suffering from the rise of email, internet social networking and a number of reputable and well-known competitors. The numbers of items sent via Royal Mail has been declining year on year for a while, and strike action is bound to increase this only further. People who may have still been sending letters, or sending parcels via Royal mail, will be tempted to turn to email, or use the another company. This is particularly important in business where in addition to an increasing need to be more respectable in environmental terms an increasingly unreliable post office leads to calls for more internet based transactions and communications. Companies who rely on sending packages, such as mail order catalogue businesses, are also going to be further inclined to move away from Royal Mail. All in all this action will surely lead to a downturn in business for an already somewhat stricken and ailing post office. Its record and reputation was increasingly in decline, and its business was slowly being taken away by other forms of communication or by rivals before this industrial action, i worry for its future after these actions have come to a close and people have to reconsider whether they can really trust Royal Mail, or whether they really need the services being provided.

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