[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=royal+mail&iid=6878390″ src=”6/e/6/b/Royal_Mail_Postal_7ec3.jpg?adImageId=8296985&imageId=6878390″ width=”234″ height=”150″ /]

Blogs seem to join up different issues. Climate Change. Working conditions. I’ve got various tags, categories and trends on this one now. The future of the Royal Mail and it’s staff is something I keep coming back to. Things have quietened down on the news front as far as the postal strike is concerned, but that doesn’t mean the issues go away.

The blogger Roy Mayall is featured on Radio 4’s Book of the Week “Dear Granny Smith” this week. Catch up with it in the Radio 4 archive. Billy Hayes (General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union) is discussing some of the issues Roy raises on the BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme “You and Yours”.

As for me, on this last day of the Climate Change talks in Copenhagen – I’m thinking – if they scrapped the Royal Mail’s current transport infrastructure altogether (including all it’s bicycles) – surely that would mean increasing carbon counts all round?

For some of my previous blog posts on this subject click on the categories  Royal Mail and Postal Strike.

Update:

I’ve just listened to the You and Yours BBC Radio 4 programme I mentioned earlier. The following points occurred to me. Firstly, I think the speakers underestimated the cultural (and political) impact of Roy Mayall’s work. From what I know of the postal service (having worked there myself) and from conversations with postal workers Roy is not simply presenting a sentimental view of what is happening, but he is also analysing current problems, some of which are hugely relevant to the recent postal strike and the current negotiations taking place.

Roy writes about walk-sequencing machines. He actually says they help the workload ‘a bit’ but not very much.  This is a really, really important point, which none of the speakers picked up on, I felt. It echoes what other postal workers have told me about the ways in which machines are being used (or not) and how effective (or ineffective) they actually are. See this post which I wrote during the strike. It includes a quote from a CWU union rep. Surely the question we need to be asking is: “How useful are they?”.

If you listen to this programme carefully you will hear one of the speakers say that the closure of mail centres will be a part of the ‘modernisation’ process. I’d like to hear what postal workers have to say about that one.

Postal worker/blogger Roy Mayall (pseudonym) holds forth on ‘modernisation’ in ‘The Guardian’ (see also my posts: “Is modernisation the real issue?” and “Postal Union heads for High Court”.

Roy says: “The reason this strike is unique is that it has nothing to do with pay. It is about the future of the Royal Mail itself – us postal workers are being portrayed as like dinosaurs clinging to our outdated and outmoded working practices. What the Royal Mail needs is a good dose of modernisation, we are told…

…I guess it depends on what you mean by “modernisation”. At times, the so-called “modernisation programme” is a farce. I know of someone working in a delivery office in Cambridgeshire who was in tears recently. Apparently he had been given 100 extra calls to make on his daily round but couldn’t fit them into his shift. His manager told him he was going to receive “refresher training”. When he asked what this involved, the manager replied: “How to walk faster…”

[picapp src=”e/8/0/5/Royal_Mail_Postal_1f37.jpg?adImageId=7084384&imageId=6875731″ width=”500″ height=”326″ /]

 

Royal Mail – er.. I mean Roy Mayall – (a pseudonym) has been a delivery postal worker for five years. He(she?) writes for the London Review Blog – revealing some of the realities behind current working conditions and politics (and why they need strong trade union protection in the workplace). Here is some of what Roy has to say about Peter Mandelson’s comment on TV in May: ‘Figures are down’:

It’s the joke at the delivery office. ‘Figures are down’, we say, and laugh as we pile the fifth or sixth bag of mail onto the scales and write down the weight in the log-book. It’s our daily exercise in fiction writing…we hear that sentence almost every day at work when management are trying to implement some new initiative which involves postal workers like me working longer hours for no extra pay, carrying more weight, having more duties

Fellow postal worker Pat Stamp comments on the blog:

“Like Roy Mayall…I am a postman and concerned at the absence in the media of any account of how mail delivery is organised and what Royal Mail’s modernisation programme entails. The programme was introduced because the popularity of email and texting has caused a drop in mail volume. Royal Mail’s first step was to reduce the number of ‘walks’. It did this by cutting some walks in each area and making the remaining walks longer. A postman who normally delivered mail to six streets, say, now found himself delivering to eight or nine. During the summer months, when mail volumes were low, he could perhaps, just cope with this. But as autumn begins and the Christmas catalogues start to come out, every week and sometimes every day can be heavy. In the run-up to last Christmas, there were postman who only finished their walks at 7 or 8.p.m., sometimes two or three times a week. In one depot alone, around 15 postman phonen in sick. This Christmas, with the even longer walks, it could be worse. Royal Mail is a strong promoter of general health and safety, but as the walks lengthen and the loads increase, many of us feel that our own health and safety isn’t being taken into consideration…”

To find out more about day-to-day working conditions of delivery staff read Roy’s blog – see this London Review: Roy Mayall’s diary:

[picapp src=”1/9/9/3/Royal_Mail_Postal_fb92.jpg?adImageId=7080601&imageId=6875684″ width=”384″ height=”594″ /]