Friday, February 06, 2009

It's all in the timing

You've got to hand it to the bosses of Royal Mail - they really are doing the best they can to ruin a once great service.

Royal Mail plans to cut 16,000 jobs in a move that would unleash further industrial unrest on the battered economy.

Royal Mail has had years of losses during the previous boom when it could have reduced costs gradually through natural job losses and modernised at the same time, but when do they decide to do it? Yep - just as the country lurches towards a depression and just as they make a decent profit.

Royal Mail, which employs 170,000 people, has contacted regions around the country asking about interest in redundancy, part-time working and other cost-saving moves.

Now if they had done this during the time when the country appeared to be doing OK they'd have got plenty of volunteers for redundancy and early retirement - but few people are going to voluntarily chuck themselves on the dole queue when unemployment is rising faster than you can say "first day cover" and no one wants to take early retirement at a time when their annuity is likely to be worth less than a first class stamp.

Perhaps worse than that is the fact that when they were making huge losses Royal Mail could at least have used that as an excuse to cut jobs - but they actually make a profit now and to start laying people off when you're making more and more money year on year smacks of greed.

The Royal Mail should never have been privatised - even in part. The Victorians were quite probably the greatest believers in private enterprise ever, but even they saw the need for a universal postal service to be a state run industry.

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