It’s a commercial enterprise as well as public service, the post; one that in recent years has undergone radical changes, what with the rise of personal and business communication via the Interwebs, and our increasing reluctance to put pen to paper. Online shopping is on the rise, but the facilitation of old-style mail order in 21st century guise is shared between the Royal Mail and umpteen private courier firms, some established and reliable, many fly-by-night.
Letter writing may be going out of fashion, but not the volume of paper shifted around these islands. Don’t believe Royal Mail executives who insist that mail volumes are down. They are fiddling the figures. We are talking here about a bully-boy management whose strings are being pulled by that government minister semi-detached and without a shred of responsibility, the Dark Lord Peter Mandelson.
My sympathies are clear, despite the major personal inconvenience caused by delays in the mail. Not only as a result of this week’s nationwide strikes, but also regional stoppages which have resulted in huge backlogs in sorting offices. I support the Communication Workers Union in its struggle. The postal workers have a strong case, which is eloquently presented in the London Review of Books by a certain “Roy Mayall”.
“Like many businesses, the Royal Mail has a pet name for its customers. The name is ‘Granny Smith’. It’s a deeply affectionate term. Granny Smith is everyone, but particularly every old lady who lives alone and for whom the mail service is a lifeline. When an old lady gives me a Christmas card with a fiver slipped in with it and writes, ‘Thank you for thinking of me every day,’ she means it. I might be the only person in the world who thinks about her every day, even if it’s only for long enough to read her name on an envelope and then put it through her letterbox.”
The business priority for the Royal Mail is now the corporate customer, including those firms that produce the vast volumes of unaddressed junk mail you translate directly from doormat to bin. A “Keine Reklame” notice on your mailbox? Not an option in Blighty, where you are forced to take delivery of all that garish, cellulosic crap. As for Granny Smith, this dear old everylady no longer features in the grand scheme of things, and to Royal Mail managers the company’s public service obligation is effectively dead.
So what do we want? Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier’s head on a plate, for starters, along with those of the entire board of management, and, last but not least, the Prince of Darkness himself. Only a blood sacrifice will appease the angry gods of labour.
Victory to the postal workers!
Hat tip: Peter Ryley