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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Think our post is bad? Here's how it could soon get worse

This article of mine, on the Netherlands’ unhappy experience with postal privatisation, appears in today's Mail on Sunday.

Hundreds of campaigners recently marched through David Cameron's Oxfordshire constituency to protest against Government plans to sell off the Royal Mail.

'The planned privatisation is an unnecessary ideological move which will damage postal services for ever,' said Billy Hayes, leader of the Communication Workers Union.

While Hayes believes the sell-off of Royal Mail - in State hands since its inception in 1516 - would mean an increase in prices, a decrease in services and mass Post Office closures, Business Secretary Vince Cable claims the move will 'secure the services that consumers and businesses rely on'.

Of course, they can't both be right. To find out what a privatised postal service really would be like, we only have to look across the North Sea to the Netherlands. And Holland's unhappy experience should give us all grounds for concern over what is about to happen in Britain.

You can read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

Great article. Here in the United States, people complain all the time about the U.S. Postal Service, but really, I have had very few problems with it, and I use the post office a lot for work and personal matters. It is a much cheaper option than the private carriers and is at least as efficient.

Unfortunately, public sector workers have been attacked for thirty years now by politicians and the media, and the recession has geared up the attacks even more as the vulture capitalists are salivating over the prospect of taking over more of the public sector.

In order to secure their victory, the vulture capitalists must divide the common folk. This is why their lapdogs in the media have been demonizing the public sector so much.

jock mctrousers said...

What a great idea for shrinking the economy even further. A new toll on business, forcing them to use more expensive couriers.

I wish I'd read that piece earlier. I sent a parcel to Holland recently, and it didn't arrive.

Anonymous said...

Neil,cheers for that,Ive printed and photocopied it,and stuck it on the wall at work,Im a postie and have been for 25 years,the service is being run into the ground to prepare for privatisation,the new park and loop method has cost the company millions,vans bought and not being used,dunno how true it is,but folk have been saying that they have made up a lot of PT's to full time in order to maximise the book value of Royal Mail for the sell off.

brian said...

attempts to do this in australia:
back in 2007:
Professor backs Australia Post privatisation
A professor at the University of Melbourne's business school has backed a call to privatise Australia Post.
The Commonwealth Bank's investment and brokering arm, CommSec, says the Federal Government could get up to $7 billion for Australia Post which it could use to invest in water projects.
Professor Paul Kerin floated the idea two years ago and says the Federal Government should sell.
"I think there's not much case for Australia Post to be owned by the Government, at least not any more," he said.
"Many years ago there may have been a social obligation case in order to make sure everyone was able to send and receive letters at a reasonable cost, but that's really a dated concept now."

brian said...

privatisation is not only annoying or creates can also kill...consider the case with the once very safe airline QANTAS:

'Welcome to Bangkok", announced the customer service manager to the 410 passengers on board the Qantas Sydney to London flight on 23 September 1999, seconds before the Boeing 747 began aquaplaning down the runway at 300 kph during a torrential thunderstorm, skidding to a halt next to the third hole of the Royal Thai Air Force Golf Course.

This is just one of the growing number of crashes in the history of the "airline that never crashes", says Matthew Benns in The Men Who Killed Qantas.

The 38 injuries that day in Bangkok were a direct result of cost-cutting. The landing over-run, said the Air Traffic Safety Board investigation, would most probably have been avoided if the pilots had been trained to put the engines into maximum reverse thrust with flaps fully open in such emergency landing situations.

But this, says Benns, was a procedure that had been trained out of Qantas pilots to save money. 'Flaps 25' (not 30) and idle (not maximum) reverse thrust was the trained procedure because this would save $1.6 billion on fuel and $700,000 a year on maintenance of the new carbon brakes.

Neil Clark said...

many thanks for the comments.

John- yes the vulture capitalists certainly are salivating: the NHS, the Royal Mail, public libraries, you name it, it's up for sale.

anonymous- many thanks. Yes, it's being delibrately run into the ground to turn people against the Royal Mail as a publicly owned corporation, so that they say 'well, privatisation can only make things better'. The same tactics were deployed in the last years of British Rail.

brian- thanks very much for sharing those with us. very interesting, and how appalling.

brian said...

economist John Quigin has a good essay on privatisation:

brian said...

Peope may like to read the comments in this article on QANTAS:

to get a feel for what has happened to QANTAS by those who have had the experience of using her. Making my way thru the comments, few use the word 'privatisation'(pity), but they are aware that a once great airline has been destroyed by those in control...
ESP good comment:
'• Scuba
• December 07, 2009
• 02:30 PM
Only two other contributors have mentioned what put Qantas in its current predicament - namely Geoff Dixon, Margaret Jackson and the greedy self-serving board of directors they headed up. With the demise of Ansett, thanks to normal New Zealand business practices and only the very unprofessional trendy, hip, young (read: if you're over 30 and not famous or beautiful, don't expect any service) majority-foreign-owned Virgin Blue for competiton, Gouging Geoff, Margaret and their avaricious mates had the opportunity to rape what had been a very professional and respected airline. In regard to staff attitudes, I know from informed sources that morale at Qantas is at its lowest point in the company's history. Keep treating your staff badly and they will react in the only way they can. A lot of them are only staying there for long-service leave and superannuation benefits, etc. Geoff and the gang burnt out their loyalty long ago. It will be interesting to see if Mr Joyce takes heed of the customer and staff disquiet and does something about or if he is just a puppet installed by his predecessor. One final comment - When the Dixon-Jackson gang couldn't sell the whole thing off, which would have sent it the way of Ansett, they decided to move on. I guess they couldn't rape and plunder too much more than they already had'