Posts Tagged ‘delivery office closures’

Royal Mail: Code of Business Standards

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment


250px-royal_mail-svgAll Royal Mail employees were sent a pamphlet recently, called Our Code: Code of Business Standards.

Why it needed to repeat the word “Code” twice in the title isn’t clear.

The pamphlet is subtitled “The Royal Mail Group code of business standards and values that we all must live by.”

Thus the word “code” is repeated three times on the cover.

Is this code for something, I wonder? Does the pamphlet contain hidden meaning behind the words on its glossy pages? Are there secrets to be found?

We will have to wait and see.

On the surface it’s a fairly bland and predictable document, covering areas of conduct within the company that you would expect to see in literature of this kind.

The pamphlet is divided into two parts. Part 1: Business behaviour covers such issues as “Health and safety”, “Service to our customers”, “Commercial behaviour and compliance”, and “Security, privacy and trust” amongst others; while Part 2: Personal behaviour covers issues like “Equality and fairness”, “Managers duty of care” and “Working with colleagues”. There’s nothing in the pamphlet you wouldn’t expect to see.

The pamphlet opens with a statement of values: “Royal Mail Group’s values reflect the principles, beliefs and aspirations that guide our behaviour and shape our culture.”

It then lists what these values are:

1) We work safely

2) We have a passion to deliver for our customers

3) We have pride and care about what we do

4) We work together and treat each other fairly

5) We are trusted to succeed

6) We act commercially

The emphasis belongs to the Royal Mail.

Most of this is obvious. Some of it is a little strange. For instance, since when did delivery to customers arouse my passion? I mean, pride and care are fair enough. But passion?

“An intense, driving or uncontrollable feeling” according to my dictionary. “An outbreak of anger.” “Ardent affection; love.” “Strong sexual desire.”

I’m not really sure we should allow too much passion into our work on this basis. It could distract from the more mundane task of posting letters. Also, the fact that this is supposed to apply to our customers could easily be misunderstood. What is it we are meant to be delivering exactly? At the very least it leaves you with the strange impression of a postal worker down on his knees on your front door step as he passionately delivers your mail.

If only we had more time….

After that we are given a list of expectations. “What you can expect from us…” and “What we can expect from you…”

There’s nothing unexpected here, and fortunately, in this case, we are not expected to do anything passionate either.

Only one thing stands out. The Royal Mail promises that it will support individuals to “raise any genuine concerns”.

Well I do have genuine concerns about the way the Royal Mail is conducting its business and, from what I hear at the office, almost every other employee does too. I wonder how much the company really intends to help us in the task of raising them?


The next part sets out our personal commitments.

We will be asked to agree to:

A) Follow the Our Code: Code of Business standards and policies &

B) Raise any serious concerns.

First of all, what strange language is this? “Follow the Our Code”? Since when did the possessive follow the definite article? It’s not even proper English, which again, makes me puzzle if there’s not some secret message behind all of this. “The Our Code” implies that the words “Our Code” have some defined meaning, separate from the one we usually associate with them, like the terms and conditions in a contract which people don’t bother to read, but which turn out to be disadvantageous to the signer.

There’s a whiff of legalese in this language.

And again it repeats that I should raise any serious concerns.

To quote:

“If you discover that the company’s standards and reputation are being put at risk by unethical or criminal behaviour, you should report the facts to a manager.” And it continues: “Of course, we realise it is not always easy reporting unethical or criminal behaviour.”

Fortunately the next section is laid out to help us with this.

It is called “Making the right decision” and it tells us that we should use this pamphlet to guide us when difficult decisions arise. “Of course, not every situation you encounter is covered: some decisions are clear cut, whereas others are more open to interpretation.”

After this it lists some questions to consider to help us in our decision.

I will quote this in full as it is important:

At some time in our working lives, it says, we all confront dilemmas about whether an action is right. If we are faced with a dilemma we are to ask our selves:

  • Is it in line with Royal Mail Group code of business standards, values and policies?
  • Does it feel right?
  • Is it lawful?
  • Will it reflect negatively on you or Royal Mail Group?
  • Would you be happy to defend your decision in public?
  • Who else could be affected by this (e.g. colleagues, clients)?
  • Would you be concerned if others knew you took this course of action?
  • Is there a better alternative action?


So now we come to the nitty-gritty: the closure of the Whitstable Delivery Office, its relocation to Canterbury and how that relates to the code.

To take the points one by one.

  • Is the closure in line with Royal Mail Group code of business standards, values and policies?

No, because later in the document it states clearly that the company is “committed to taking account of the environmental and ethical effects of our policies in our planning and operations”, and this decision will clearly have a negative impact on the environment, forcing large numbers of postal workers to drive to and from work, and adding upwards of 5,000 extra miles a week to our travelling. That’s around a quarter of a million extra miles a year, in round figures, making this decision disastrous for the environment.

  • Does it feel right?

No. The odd thing here is that, despite the fact that the company clearly states environmental concerns as part of its ethical policy, whenever you mention the environmental impact of the move they dismiss it. Commercial interests always come before environmental concerns, it seems. This smacks of hypocrisy, or of “green-washing”: making positive-sounding statements which are just covers for a policy which will have a negative impact on the environment.

  • Is it lawful?

No it is not. According to the Climate Change Act 2008, there are legally binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 80% by 2050. Air quality levels in Broad Street, Military Road and Sturry Road, are already in breach of the law, so the incursion of up to 100 private vehicles into the area, and around 50 postal vans all exiting at the same time, is bound to push those levels up even more. Of course, this is not the Royal Mail’s area of responsibility. It is up to the council to police air quality, and they have no power to stop this move, thus allowing the Royal Mail to claim “concern for the environment” while simultaneously breaching all legal obligations.

  • Will it reflect negatively on you or Royal Mail Group?

Yes it will. Customers hate this. They are very, very angry. They express their anger to us on a regular basis. Anyone who wants to measure the degree of anger and frustration felt by customers need only spend some time in the Canterbury Parcels Office when Herne Bay residents are there to pick up their undelivered mail. Unfortunately it is the ordinary staff there who hear the complaints and who sometimes have to put up with abuse, and not the senior managers who are actually responsible, who are safely cushioned from the consequences of their decision in comfortable offices far from the scene.

  • Would you be happy to defend your decision in public?

This isn’t quite clear. What decision are we talking about here? If it’s the Royal Mail’s decision to close the Delivery Office, then, no, I would not be happy to defend it in public. The opposite, in fact. I am opposed to it, and have made my views known, through a number of outlets. But if it is my decision to oppose the closure, and to do everything in my power to stop it, then, yes, I am more than happy to defend my decision in public. Let everyone hear. It is the most ridiculous, short-sighted, damaging and indefensible decision that the Royal Mail could possibly have made.

  • Who else could be affected by this (e.g. colleagues, clients)?

Everyone will be affected by this. Royal Mail staff will be forced to drive to and from work, while now large numbers of us walk or cycle, while people living around the office in Military Road will have to put up with the increased traffic and parking problems. Meanwhile Whitstable residents will be forced to travel to Canterbury to pick up their mail, or to wait until the item is redelivered, perhaps several days later. Even if customers are happy with these arrangements, there are still some categories of mail that cannot be redelivered: such as mail with an excess charge, or PO Box mail. Customers will definitely have to travel to Canterbury to collect these. Imagine the frustration of travelling to Canterbury – taking two buses, or up to half an hour’s drive each way – only to find that your excess charge mail was an item you didn’t want in the first place!

  • Would you be concerned if others knew you took this course of action?

Yes, I am deeply concerned. I am ashamed of the company I work for, making decisions which negatively impact upon its own customers, and even upon its own business interests. The cost of this move is ridiculous: at least £180,000 a year in lost wages alone, as postal workers are forced to drive to and from their rounds instead of just going out of the door and delivering, as many of them do now. This is not to speak of petrol costs and maintenance of vehicles, and the negative impact on the company as more and more customers find alternative ways of getting their mail. The Royal Mail has many rivals, but it currently has one distinct advantage over all of them: it’s network of local delivery offices in every town. Why throw away a long-term advantage for the sake of short-term profit? It doesn’t make any sense.

  • Is there a better alternative action?

Yes there is. We could keep the Whitstable Delivery Office open, thus saving hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost wages and a huge negative impact upon our customers and on the environment. Or we could open a new office, somewhere between Whitstable and Herne Bay, which would serve both towns. The company claims that this would be too expensive, that, although there are many suitable buildings available, it would cost too much to upgrade them to legal safety standards. But what’s the alternative? They will have £650,000 from the sale of the Whitstable office, a sum which would be used up in less than three years in extra costs if they go ahead with this move to Canterbury.

Invest that money in a new building and save money year on year. Keep our customers happy and our rivals from our door. Look after the environment and retain the link between postal workers and the town where they work. Stop unnecessary travelling. That is the genuine alternative.


The effect of delivery office closures on air quality in Canterbury

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment



Cllr John Gilbey

According to the Climate Change Act 2008, there are legally binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 80% by 2050.

2050 is a long way off and most of the councillors with responsibility for meeting the targets will be long gone by then. That must be why John Gilbey, the leader of Canterbury City Council at the time, thought that it wasn’t all that important.

As he said, “the levels of air pollution are not that bad and only just over the top.”

So that’s OK then. I wonder if the same rules would apply were I engaged in the much less harmful practice of smoking marijuana in the privacy of my own room? Could I argue in the courts that my levels of smoking weren’t that bad and only just over the top?

Could I quote Mr. Gilbey’s line on climate change by saying that marijuana smoking is not the biggest issue facing us, and that I will take practical proper action, although I doubt that I will ever stop smoking?

The law, it seems, only applies to certain people at certain times.

Air quality

Meanwhile, air quality levels in Broad Street, Military Road and Sturry Road were already in breach of the law before Herne Bay and Whitstable delivery offices closed between 2012 and 2013, since when all of the postal workers in both offices are forced to commute to work, instead of cycling or walking as many of them did previously.

Up to 100 extra postal vans exit the offices at around the same time and Whitstable and Herne Bay people have been made to drive to Canterbury to collect their undelivered packets, instead of walking to their delivery office as they were able to do before.

The Royal Mail claim that they are reducing emissions. The trick they are playing here is that they are only counting their own emissions and not taking into account the extra emissions caused by their own staff and customers driving to and from Canterbury.

But I guess it doesn’t matter. We can all take Mr Gilbey’s view. We’ll be dead by 2050 and climate change will be someone else’s problem.

Royal Mail’s ‘neighbourly’ delivery service has a hidden cause

October 4, 2011 1 comment

Staff unload vans at Royal Mail’s sorting office in Filton, Bristol one of the biggest in the UK. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The Royal Mail’s decision to leave undelivered mail with neighbours fits in with its policy of closing delivery offices

From the Guardian, Comment is free

Monday 3 October 2011 10.09 BST

How well do you know your neighbour? Well enough to trust him with your valuables, for instance, with confidential information, with your cup-final tickets or your passport? Well enough to allow him to receive your latest bargains from eBay or your brand new iPhone?

You’d better get to know him pretty soon, if the latest proposals by the Royal Mail are accepted by Postcomm.

Currently the Royal Mail is the only postal company not allowed to leave undelivered mail with your neighbours. Instead a 739 (“Sorry you were out”) card is left and the items returned to the local delivery office for collection.

In future, if you are not in, the postal worker will be expected to try delivering to a neighbour instead. A neighbour is defined as someone who “lives within close proximity”. It’s up to the postal worker to decide who this might be. If the neighbour accepts the item, then a 739 card will be delivered to your door detailing the address where the mail is left. If the item requires a signature, then the neighbour’s signature will be taken. If the neighbour is not at home, or refuses to accept the item, then the postal worker will return it to the delivery office in the usual way. The Royal Mail will not accept liability for loss, damage, or delay once it is in the neighbour’s hands.

According to the latest research by GfK NOP market research carried out on behalf of Consumer Focus, customers are generally suspicious of the proposals. Four out of five of those questioned said that they should be allowed to opt-out of the scheme if they wished, while nearly half (49%) said that neighbours shouldn’t be allowed to sign for recorded post. One in five people said they were unhappy for any neighbour to be given any post.

The Royal Mail states that the reason for the change in procedure is to “bring its service into line with other providers”.

That’s “modernisation” for you. Because other mail companies provide a lesser service, the Royal Mail feels obliged to reduce the quality of its service too. I always thought the idea of competition was that it would improve the service. Not so, it seems …

Actually, I think the company is being disingenuous here. I think it has little to do with saving money or with competition. Something else is going on, something you will know about if it is happening in your area, but which you will not have heard of otherwise: the large-scale but mostly hidden closure of delivery offices up and down the country.

Just to give you some idea of the scale of these closures: in the last month I’ve had notification of the impending closure of more than 10 delivery offices in the UK. This includes the closure of a number of delivery offices in the RG7 postcode area around Tadley, Hook and Thatcham and their removal to Reading, about 11 miles away. The Reading delivery office is also due to close, and the whole lot moved into an industrial estate outside the town. Also planned for closure are offices in DundeeHull, Holbeach, Fishguard, Droitwich, Guisborough, Malmesbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay.

The most high-profile closure is that of the central London delivery office in Rathbone Place, which serves W1, WC1 and WC2, which Great Portland Estates has just bought for £120m. I have to say that sounds like a bit of a bargain for a 2.3 acre site, just off the eastern end of Oxford Street, in the heart of the London’s fashionable West End. The Royal Mail operation will be moved to the Mount Pleasant office in Phoenix Place, Islington, a significant bus or tube journey away.

These are only the ones I’ve heard about in the last month. According to the Royal Mail annual report 2010-2011, 19 delivery offices closed last year. This should give you some idea of the on-going scale of the programme.

The reason news of the closures remains hidden is that the story always appears in the local paper and as yet there has been no notification in the national press. There are small-scale protests happening throughout the country, as local people are beginning to recognise the implications of the closure of their particular delivery office, but no recognition of the sheer scale of the closure programme, nor what this will cost in terms of extra journeys to and from distant offices for the nation as a whole.

Just to give you one example of this, if the Herne Bay and Whitstable delivery offices close and their operations move to Canterbury, some eight miles away, then this could mean in the region of 1.5m extra miles of road journeys per year for staff going to and from work and for customers forced to pick up their undelivered mail.

Hence the need to change procedures. While staff will have to undertake the journey regardless, customers might well prefer to risk having their mail dropped off with a neighbour rather than having to drive to some out-of-the-way office on an out-of-town industrial estate to pick it up.

Royal Mail is supposed to be a low-carbon company. As it says on the website: “We want to make sure our services have a positive impact on society and a minimal impact on the environment – and we’re working with you and our partners to make it happen. For us, sustainability affects every part of our business, every day, and we can all make a contribution.”

Meanwhile the Royal Mail are raking in vast amounts of cash for the sale of prime real estate in the heart of our towns and cities. Where will all the money go I wonder?

Read more here.

Herne Bay and Whitstable delivery office closures a bad idea

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment

National Postal Workers Day: about 50 people turned up to show their support

As I’m sure you know by now, they are closing down the delivery offices in Whitstable and Herne Bay, and relocating them to Canterbury.

This is being done in the name of savings. It will cost less to maintain a single centralised office than three local offices, we are told. But is it actually true? I’ve been working it out.

There are 50 workers each in Whitstable and Herne Bay: 100 workers altogether. It will take about half an hour each way to drive to and from Canterbury. So that’s an hour of Royal Mail time spent getting postal workers to and from the start of their rounds. We earn £9.00 an hour, so it will cost the company £900 a day, which is £4,500 a week, or £225,000 a year. That’s nearly a quarter of a million pounds a year just to get the workforce to the start of their round every day.

This is not to speak of the extra pollution of having hundreds of vans spluttering about in Canterbury during the rush hour or the cost in maintenance, petrol, road tax and insurance. It’s not to speak of traffic chaos in Canterbury or parking problems in Military Road. It’s not to speak of the inconvenience to customers of having to travel to Canterbury to pick up their undelivered mail.

Using the Royal Mail’s own figures in terms of 100 undelivered items of mail per day per office, and the extra amount of workers commuting from both towns to Canterbury and the new fleet of vans, we have calculated that this will add an astonishing 786,000 extra miles of road journeys en route per year.

Those of you who sent a letter to the Royal Mail will know how dismissive they are.

It is a business matter, they say: they don’t have to consult, and the case is now closed.

It is time for us to stand up and tell them this is much more than a business matter, we demand that they listen, and the case is anything but closed.

Stop the Closures!

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment



National Postal Workers Day: support from the community


Whitstable Royal Mail delivery office is due to close in January next year. Herne Bay delivery office has already closed and been relocated to Canterbury. We have yet to hear what the effects of this decision might be.

Because it is a bad decision.

Firstly it is bad for the environment. Currently the two offices are served by two lorries apiece, which bring the letters to the town where they will be delivered. Once the delivery offices are closed, up to 100 postal workers will be expected to drive to Canterbury to pick up the mail, to drive back to their round, to drive back to Canterbury to drop off the mail, and to then drive home again.


Thus four lorry journeys will be turned into four hundred car journeys. This will be particularly hard around the Military Road area in Canterbury, which is already subject to air quality checks. I wonder how the people living around there will view the massive increase in traffic to their streets if these closures go ahead?

Secondly, it is bad for the economy of the towns, as the jobs are moved out. Currently the majority of workers in the offices are from the town where they work, but how long will this last? Jobs that begin and end in Canterbury will be taken up by people living in Canterbury, thus depriving the people Whitstable and Herne Bay of a major employer in the heart of their towns.

Thirdly it will be bad for customers, who will be deprived of a convenient place in their town to pick up their undelivered mail.

Tom Willis, south east England regional director of the Royal Mail, said that the company is “committed to providing convenient and local facilities for customers to collect their mail”. As yet he has entirely failed to fulfil this promise.

In the same letter, Mr Willis said that “whilst the decision to close a delivery office is not subject to public consultation (as this is a business decision), we always consult our staff and the union.”

This is untrue. There has been no consultation with staff, and while the agreement with the union following on from the strikes of 2009 includes a reference to the closure of mail centres, it makes no reference to the closure of local delivery offices. In fact the Kent Invicta branch of the Communications Workers Union is entirely behind our campaign.

He also inadvertently gives the game away. This is a business decision, he says. But whose business is it? For the time being at least, it is still our business. It is still publicly owned. The Royal Mail remains a public service. It has a duty to the public to consult about decisions which will directly affect the quality of our service.

Up till now it has entirely failed to do that.

Postal changes will help big business – not you!

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Members of the Stop the Closures! campaign meet Tony Benn in Canterbury.

Tom Willis, south east regional director of the Royal Mail, wrote to the Whitstable and Herne Bay Gazette explaining why the Royal Mail’s position on the changes to your postal service. Following is my reply:


In last week’s Gazette, Tom Willis said that plans to move delivery offices from Whitstable and Herne Bay to Military Road in Canterbury was part of a £70 million investment “to modernise our business and improve service to our customers”.

Customers in Herne Bay will already know what Royal Mail “modernisation” actually means. It means later deliveries, delayed mail, lost packages, backlogs and confusion, as an untried delivery method is being foisted on a reluctant workforce.

It means replacing pollution free bikes with a new fleet of vans. It doesn’t matter how environmentally friendly the vans are, they will still create more pollution than the bikes they are replacing.

Mr Willis says that the company hopes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from Royal Mail vehicles by over 30 per cent. This may be true, but it doesn’t take into account the extra journeys that postal workers will be forced to take to get to and from work every day.

That 30 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from Royal Mail vehicles will be replaced by a 100 per cent increase in my carbon dioxide emissions as I am forced to drive to work instead of cycling as I currently do. Possibly as many as 100 staff in both offices are in the same position as me.

Mr Willis says he wishes to reassure customers that they will continue to be top priority during these operational changes. It depends on which customers he’s referring to of course.

Some people might suggest that these changes are being rolled out in the interests of the Royal Mail’s corporate customers, not their ordinary customers. It’s so utility bills and junk mail can be sent out cheaper, not in order to deliver you a better service.

Mr Willis says that the company is committed to providing convenient local facilities for customers who wish to collect their mail.

I’m assuming he means the post offices. But how long will that last? Once privatisation has taken place, and the link between the Royal Mail and the Post Office is broken, how long before our post offices are closed down? Where will you go to collect your mail then? Even assuming they can find a private company willing to take the undelivered mail, how can this be more secure than a dedicated facility in your own town, staffed by the posties you already know?

(Please note, the Royal Mail have failed to fulfil this promise, and so far no convenient local facilities have been made available.)

Mr Willis also fails to take into account the effect on the economy of the towns. Currently the majority of staff in both offices are from the town where they work. Once the jobs move out they will never come back again. Jobs will increasingly be taken up by people from other parts of the region who have little or no commitment to the communities they serve.

What is clear is that the Royal Mail simply haven’t thought through the implications of their modernisation programme properly. They haven’t consulted with you, their customers, or with us, their staff.

They’ve pressed ahead blindly, preferring to trust the expertise of computer programmers than the accumulated knowledge of their own staff. They’ve spent millions of pounds on a crackpot delivery method which looks good on a computer screen but which is clumsy and impractical over the ground.

They should have asked us posties first. We are the experts in delivery. We would have told them it wouldn’t work.

Pensions, Packets & Privatisation

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The following is the text of a speech made to the public meeting about the closure of Whitstable and Herne Bay Mail Delivery offices on Tuesday 23rd November 2010 at the Whitstable Labour Club.

Pension deficit


As people know, I’ve been doing my own investigations into the problems of the Royal Mail. I’ve been running a blog, which is widely read and quite influential in the industry. One day I got a comment which caught my attention. So I made an arrangement to talk to the guy who wrote it.

As it turns out he was an ex senior manager with the Royal Mail, and he had some very interesting things to say. He said that the Royal Mail has basically been treading water for the last 30 years or so. The Tories had wanted to privatise it, but didn’t dare as it was too popular at the time. After that New Labour hadn’t known what to do with it. They had a free-market agenda, but basically their own back-benchers wouldn’t allow privatisation. Consequently management have had a short-term agenda. Adam Crozier and his ilk were brought in on short-term contracts, so it’s obvious they wouldn’t have the long-term interests of the Royal Mail at heart. They’ve only been interested in cost-cutting in order to boost their bonuses. After that we’ve had deregulation and downstream access, where the Royal Mail has actually been supplementing its own rivals, and then being obliged to deliver their letters for them. And the Royal Mail management have withdrawn from the struggle as it were. They’ve sat back and started contemplating their own navels.

And in all that time, he says, they’ve been fiddling the figures. Take that pensions deficit. Let’s leave aside the fact that the only reason that it exists is that the company took a pensions holiday for more than a decade – in other words, that the pensions deficit is an entirely manufactured problem. But even if you think that the problem is a genuine one, it’s not actually as bad as its being made out. The figure is put at £10 billion, but how have they come up with that? Basically they have £30 billion worth of liabilities, but only £20 billion worth of assets. But no one is calling on the assets right now, so there’s plenty of time to do something about it, since the majority of people in the pension scheme are not intending to retire immediately.

In other words that £10 billion pensions liability, is actually a £20 billion asset. It just depends on how you want to look at it.

Meanwhile, the government have taken responsibility for the scheme in order to privatise the company. Without the pensions deficit the company is still in a good position. It’s the pensions deficit which has always been used as the main excuse for privatisation. In other words, having nationalised the pensions deficit they’ve made privatisation unnecessary.


But the most interesting thing that this guy said was about packets. He said that even 15 years ago the Royal Mail knew that packets would be the future. They knew that the number of letters was going to fall. So what have they done? They’ve spent billions of pounds on new technology to speed up the processing of letters, while closing down local delivery offices.

In fact the solution to Royal Mail’s problems would be the exact opposite of this. We shouldn’t be closing down delivery offices, we should be opening them up. We should be extending the facilities in order to cut down on queues. We should be employing more dedicated staff to run these offices. And we should be offering new services to our customers.

Take this idea as an example. The reason we’re having our bikes taken away from us to be replaced by vans is so we can take out more packets. Actually the news from the offices where they’ve already undertaken this change in working practices is that it doesn’t work because the vans are too small. So there’s been a real miscalculation here. The Royal Mail management haven’t thought it through properly. But if we had a dedicated local office, we wouldn’t need to take out the packets. We could offer specific services for specific needs. We could take out a card to tell people that their packet had arrived, and then people could pick it up from the local office. Or we could send a text or an email telling them their packet had arrived.

How easy is that?

And that is the way we could undermine our rivals. The local offices are our main asset. We have offices in every town. TNT don’t. DHL don’t. UK Mail don’t. None of our rivals have a network even remotely approaching ours. With the right management, with the right backing, with imagination and energy, the Royal Mail could be a world beater once more, rather than the basket case it’s become.

Or how about this for an idea. There’s a wealth of knowledge in every delivery office. Why doesn’t the Royal Mail use it?

If you want to know how long a round will take, you don’t need a computer programme to tell you, ask the postie. The postie will know. If you want to know how best to do the round, whether by bike or on foot or with a trolley or a van, ask the postie. The postie will know. If you want to know who has moved in to number 22, and whether Mr Jones still lives at number 27, ask the postie. The postie will know. A walk-sequencing machine can sort the mail fast and efficiently, but could it find a person’s address without a house number or a postcode? The postie can. You want to know how to make the post more efficient? Ask us postal workers. We know.

I remember overhearing one of my work colleagues moaning one day. “The only decision I get to make these days is whether to eat a banana or an apple with my lunch,” he said. And that precisely what is wrong with the Royal Mail. No one bothers to ask us any more, and yet we are the experts.

Yanis Varoufakis


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