Thursday, 8 October 2009

Why support the Post Workers?

It will never be profitable to deliver hospital results to elderly pensioners in tower blocks. It will never be profitable to deliver the holiday post card to your auntie from the Isle of Skye. The protection of such an important social and universal post service requires cross subsidizing from more profitable forms of mail between big urban centres.

The tragedy of the New Labour years has been the undermining of this previously loved and respected service by the half baked introduction of the market, the failure to invest in appropriate infrastructure and the ludicrous public subsidising of private delivery firms.

It is a bare arsed fact that the only institution standing between us and yet another full, disastrous and costly public service privatisation is the post workers union (The Communication Workers Union). New Labour have hoped that, by appointing multi millionaire super executives Alan Crozier and Adam Leighton, shear bloody minded intimidation, belligerence and the occasional bung might soften up the post office for privatisation. The result has been to develop one of worst cultures of management bullying in any industry in the UK. Little wonder that post workers have just voted for industrial action (76% yes vote on 67 percent turnout).

This strike is not about the impact of the internet, or Spanish practices, or modernisation. It is about the ability of collective action to defend a social good. It is about illusions of market choice obscuring the reality of reduced service and greater cost. It is about the role of unions in our society and whether the political agenda is to be shaped by working people like you and me or yacht hopping, multi millionaire smoozing free marketeers like Lord Peter (unelected) Mandleson and George (related to George III) Osbourne.

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