The whole strike philosophy that the Unions have has never made a great deal of sense to me. Strikes always occur when the economy is at its lowest and business decisions have to be made that sometimes are not always favoured by the employees. But by going on strike I don’t quite know what is achieved apart from harming the business itself.
Take the Royal Mail for instance who are at the moment in talks with the CWU (Communication Workers Union) trying to come to an agreement to avert the national UK postal strikes due to take place tomorrow and Friday. I’m not sure if some of the workforce understand the severity of their action and probably just treat it as a free day off … like when heavy snow hits and you can’t get to work.
Strikes may have worked many years ago, but in today’s economy things move too fast, with lots of alternatives. Businesses like the Royal Mail are not the only option to get letters and packages distributed, and this is where the competition strides in.
It was only last week that it was announced that the Royal Mail had lost a crucial contract with their second largest customer, Amazon, due to the threats of strike action leading up to their busiest time. Today it has been announced that the Scottish government have given TNT an £8million contract for their 2nd class deliveries which used to be with the Royal Mail. There are also many smaller businesses switching their mail supplier, most out of necessity but some out of sheer frustration of being held at ransom by the postal workers.
I have a very hard line approach to strikers, especially when there are lots of capable people being made redundant. The postal workers should be quite pleased that they have a job at the moment and should be doing all they can to keep their jobs and help the company succeed. It was only earlier on today that we were discussing the ongoing strike in Leeds where the dustbin men (or Recycling Operatives if that’s the politically correct name for them) have been on strike for 7 weeks … can you imagine the problem with only limited collections by private firms. My answer would be to tell them to get back to work or be sacked. I’m sure there are plenty of unskilled / semi-skilled people who wouldn’t mind £19,000 to empty some wheelie bins.
Anyway the real problem that the Royal Mail has is that one of the reason for the strikes were the potential job losses that may occur once Royal Mail bring in some modernisation to improve the efficiency and reduce overheads. But they really are too late. Most of their competitors and new entrants into the delivery market have already got modern equipment which means that they can offer a lower cost on big contracts so the Royal Mail will continue to lose out. The most valuable thing for a company that is being lost, is the trust and the levels of customer service.
It is relatively easy to switch provider these days and more companies are offering paperless statements or email invoicing which is reducing the level of post being sent each day. The biggest downfall for the post office was probably the acceptance by business and individuals of email as a way to communicating rather than snail mail.
Photography by Swanksalot