News that Consignia (Royal Mail) is to shed one in ten of the workforce came as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the signs over the past twelve months. Rumours have persisted that second deliveries are to be abolished for years now. In fact, it was only the insistence of the Department of Trade and Industry during the Tory years of the 1980s and 1990's which prevented the Post Office Board from doing the dirty deed before now.
The last few years have seen the amount of mail taken out on first deliveries grow as Royal Mail has deliberately depleted the mail which was once set aside for second deliveries and forwarded it onto already overloaded early morning rounds.
Many staff have helped bring about this situation by arriving for work before the official starting time and performing what can only be termed as unpaid overtime. There is an insistence by these people that they use their own private cars to convey themselves and their mail out to their respective delivery areas rather than use Royal Mail vans. Hence, driving duties are done away with which has the knock-on effect of reducing overall jobs in delivery offices.
If the C.W.U. had any bottle, it would have pushed for a car ban years ago in order to protect existing jobs and create new ones. It never has and is unlikely to insist on one now. The unofficial early morning starters and car users have masked the problem of overloaded rounds for years as well as saving Royal Mail hundreds of thousands of pounds in real overtime payments and new jobs.
Royal Mail claim they are broke. They are going to make the workforce pay for years of miss-management and massive golden handshakes to bullshitters who have managed to persuade the Post Office Board they have some talent to offer as businessmen. No such golden handshakes will be on offer to the rank and file who will bear the brunt of the job cuts. It won't simply be a case of ‘last in, first out' as many old hands suppose. The current use of automatic warnings for sick absence and conduct issues, condemned in the recent Sawyer report, will continue apace. One London C.W.U. Area Rep. reckons to be dealing with three dismissal cases every day and even at local level Office Reps will be dealing with two or three cases a week where at one time it would have been two or three a month. Managers are no longer prepared to listen to extenuating circumstances such as hospitalisation or absence due to accident on duty. It is quite clear their minds are made up before the hearings, which have now become nothing more than window dressing. This is how Royal Mail will cut 20,000 jobs within the next eighteen months.
The next big changes will probably involve privatising the road fleet and introducing one big delivery later on in the day. There is already talk of a fifty pound per year charge to customers who wish to receive their mail at the more traditional early morning time. If you are waiting for your Giro, tough! Pay up or wait. And thanks to the business brains who wasted a fortune on a ridiculous name change, plenty of former Post Office employees will be waiting for theirs in the near future.