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21/10/09 - Ed's journal
With the postal service out on strike - would the world end if "standard" residential post was once or twice a week, with anything faster being special delivery?


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From: linamishima Date: October 21st, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, yes it would.

See my recent post for the background behind the strike.

Businesses, councils and government agencies send important documents via the post, often demanding responses within a certain time period. They are unlikely to pay the additional cost for a courier (given how they often send important documents second class anyhow), and are unlikely to increase the time they allow beyond what they legally have to offer.

A lot of people cannot switch online, and some cannot have a phone line or mobile. The daily post delivery is a lifeline for these people, and prevents social exclusion. Not only does it allow communication with official bodies, but also allows people to keep in touch with their family and friends. Those who would be adversely affected the hardest by any such change would be those who already are in difficult situations.

But what you suggest is not unfeasable - indeed, I fear it is a likely outcome of complete privatisation. Delivery to the door is the most costly part of the postal service, and hence the first they will look to strip.

The Royal Mail is a vital service for many, and this is something those of us with a social conscious should be concerned about.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 21st, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your post comments that actual workload is going up - fair enough, but ... this would make actual workload go _down_ again, as you get more aggregation of deliveries, surely?

I get stuff in the post regularly, but there's really very little of it that's so time sensitive that arriving tomorrow is any more use to me than arriving in a couple of days time. Good point though. Legal notices and legal obligations might have to be amended - notices of intended prosecution for example, might have to be extended in their time validity.

To me, the ability to send stuff by post is a vital service. But to have it arrive some point in the next week is more than sufficient. For time critical stuff, I have other forms of communication anyway (and if it is time critical, I don't consider 'normal post' acceptable anyway).

But ... well, can you enlighten me a little as to what situations a daily post would be considered a 'lifeline'? (I presume we're not talking businesses, who it's economic to charge for such a service)

*shrug*. Personally I'm of the opinion that infrastructure services - for which a postal service counts - should be government funded. I mean, it's the whole point of having a government - to collect levy off the people to pay for 'collective' services like that.

But ... it's too late now. The post office in my opinion cannot be nationalized in such a fashion again, and as such ... whilst it's the lesser, it's still the case that pushing on with privatization is the only real option.
From: linamishima Date: October 22nd, 2009 12:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Although it would reduce the number of shifts, imagine how much more they would have to carry on those twice-weekly trips. It wouldn't be an easy shift.

Older people, people on low incomes, and those who for other reasons don't have a phone are reliant on the postal service for long distance communication, especially in rural areas. And if you're suggesting twice-weekly only in urban areas, you can bet rural areas will see their local post vanishing entirely (which already happens in some parts of the states).

It's not too late now to fix the mess - look at how other services have been re-nationalised, even the banks have been dragged back a little :P Quite frankly the only reason it has became this bad is due to extreme miss-management by the government and the higher management of royal mail, apparently deliberately to force privatisation. I really don't think we should suggest letting the bullies win.
jorune From: jorune Date: October 22nd, 2009 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
The problem is that the capacity load dramatically shifts and you find a significant part of the postal infrastructure breaks. Delivery van's are not big enough, new warehouses have to be built, sorting depots start getting unusual loads, etc.

Is this a variant on the net neutrality argument?

I agree with linamishima that there are many people who rely on the daily delivery service, i.e. the elderly, the infirm, distant families, who would feel lost without it. The Post Office like the NHS forms part of the social fabric of the country for many people. This is one of the reasons why postal privatization is an explosive political issue in the Labour party.
erjholton From: erjholton Date: October 21st, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
It'd make a lot of postmen miserable because most of them would be reduced to part-time and with a significantly larger load on delivery days.

Also, some laws would be need to be rewritten as there are some things related to legal notices that can be assumed to have been received after a certain period of time if sent by ordinary 1st class post.
From: linamishima Date: October 21st, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
most are part-time already, with the full-time ones having to pull more than they should to support them.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: October 21st, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
With the throughput dropped, then yes, inevitably you'd have a lower workload and thus either part time or redundancies.

Then again, you might also have an economically viable postal service, so they can stop striking for their terms and conditions to be boosted. Except the ones that are redundant of course.
erjholton From: erjholton Date: October 21st, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
You'll still have the same volume of letters to deliver, just all concentrated on the one or two days a week that there is a delivery. Delivery routes would have to be shorter to keep the weight of letters each postman has to carry reasonable (or you could just force each postman to carry an unsafe weight of mail, of course, but HSE might have something to say about that). Plus there will be additional stresses on other parts of the system (where to store all the post that's waiting to be delivered? How often to empty letterboxes?). Plus there are social costs, not least of which is that you're making the occupation of postal worker less attractive or outright non-viable as a job option, which in turn will result in a drop in the quality of postal workers. Leading to more lost and stolen mail.

If you advocate replacing the post office with private companies, then bear in mind that unless, compelled by law, those private companies will give utterly atrocious service to remote and rural communities - the groups that rely on the GPO the most.
From: linamishima Date: October 22nd, 2009 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
"or you could just force each postman to carry an unsafe weight of mail"
Royal mail have beaten you to that idea already, when it comes to the practice of actually delivering ¬.¬
(Deleted comment)
jorune From: jorune Date: October 22nd, 2009 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)
This is one of the curious aspects of British politics over the past 25 years. Govt's delighting when nationalised industries become smaller more efficient businesses yet wondering what they are going to do with all these new unemployed people. Payments to nationalised industries down, disability benefit payments up as huge swathes of the country became jobless areas.

One hand is supposed to help the other, not hit it with a hammer. While I'm sure some people have benefited by having a new start away from their previous job how well has it done in the long run? I think it is fair that results have been mixed. When Labour votes are tumbling and fringe parties win then it is because people want to protest.

I wonder how well the German and New Zealand models work? While Deutsche post claim improved efficiencies did the Govt benefit from removing the postal monopoly or did it just shift the costs elsewhere?
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