Mark Steel: Royal Mail is to blame for our broken society (obviously)

We can already see the 'modernisation' the Government wants from posties

Share
Related Topics

"The Post office unions can't obstruct modernisation," insists Peter Mandelson. That must be why Mandelson has the thoroughly modern job title of Lord, because he's not afraid to modernise. And no one could accuse his place of work, the House of Lords, of resisting modernisation. Every member of staff is at the cutting edge of new technology, making use of the very latest developments in ermine gowns, and overmanning is unheard of as every single Lord is essential and oozes infectious youthful hereditary energy for the benefit of Britain.

If only the Post Office unions would agree to being that modern, then their sacks would be carried by equerries, and attendance would be around 5 per cent of the workforce, who would take it in turns to stand up with a parcel, shake it for a couple of minutes, then say "Am I delivering this or receiving it, I don't recall?" and sit down again.

Presumably, what is meant by "modernise" is privatised. Then, as they're delivering your mail postmen can say "Would you like a pastry with your bills this morning? No? In that case are you aware I could also supply you with gas?" And each postman could get sponsorship, and cycle along whistling 'You can't get quicker than a Kwik Fit fitter'. Eventually they'll be properly modern, like the water companies who were fined £12m for providing a dreadful service and lying to cover it up, or the hugely popular gas companies.

We can already see the types of modernisation the Government would like to apply. For example they got rid of that antiquated system in rural areas where the elderly would queue in a ramshackle old Post Office for their pension, by shutting the things down. And in a marvellous example of joined-up government, soon the elderly won't be any worse off because their pensions will be scrapped anyway, saving them a walk, and encouraging them to modernise because it's no good wandering about being 82 in a modern environment.

So the management at Royal Mail, and the Government, want to cut jobs, freeze pay and change the working conditions for the staff, which has led to the current strikes. And that means certain papers are already exploding with stories that start "Britain's 103-year-olds are to be targeted by callous striking union members. 'Christmas cards are all I have to live for', said Ethel Dibbet from her nursing home, 'But this year I suppose I'll have to go without, what with them blooming selfish postmen with their unrealistic demands and obstinate Luddite refusal to ruddy well modernise'."

The Times had a headline telling us the strike would "Lose £100m in revenues" for the Government, which seems a lot until they explain this is because they'll have to waive the £100 fine for late tax returns, that could have been imposed on a million people. But surely The Times, and David Cameron, should be delighted about this, praising the union for helping to stamp out the red tape that holds back business.

You can see why there's such enthusiasm for taking on the post unions, because these are the people whose excess has got us into such a financial mess. Ask anyone "Whose greed caused the economic crash"? and they'll say "Investment postmen, they're the bastards." And we've all heard tales of them gloating down the sorting office, about how they'd just finished Gresham Street when they heard about the run on the futures market in Hong Kong, nipped down the stock market on their bicycle, did three dings on their bell to signal "sell" to the traders, picked up £10m and nipped back just in time to finish Parsley Avenue.

There is one other possibility, which is the Royal Mail management and the Government are trying to break the union altogether, which would explain why they've drawn up plans to impose the changes without the union's agreement, leaving the management free to impose whatever sackings or pay cuts they fancied at any time. And to be fair, you can see why the head of Royal Mail, Adam Crozier, might consider a union unnecessary, as he managed to get himself a deal worth £9m over six years without one.

It might also explain their aggressive stance, which has gone as far as cancelling their annual anti-bullying week, although one-third of staff say they've witnessed bullying managers. Or maybe Mandelson has insisted the management modernises bullying, so instead of calling staff in to be told they're slow and useless, they'll now be told they're fat ugly pigs on Twitter.

And if Royal Mail get their way, we could find the local sorting office turned into modern themed apartments, and we'll have to collect all of our parcels from a centralised modern digital automated package centre in a retail park in Bangalore.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

 

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments