Archive

Posts Tagged ‘modernisation programme’

Royal Mail Modernisation: Golf Trolleys Versus Bikes

August 23, 2012 11 comments

Modernisation

Modern workers with modern tools

The Royal Mail is undertaking a major modernisation programme at the moment. Gone are the old, worn-out, Victorian ways of doing things, to be replaced by new, sleek, 21st Century methods.

Gone are the traditional, old fashioned bikes, for example, in use for more than a hundred years, to be replaced by golf-trolleys.

Here are some of the many ways in which golf-trolleys have proved themselves more modern than bikes:

1.

You have to walk with a golf-trolley. You cannot scoot, glide, pedal or push. You cannot relax on a downhill run and allow the bike to take the weight. Obviously this means you are much slower with a golf-trolley than with a bike, making the round that much longer. But it has the advantage that you are expected to walk at a steady four miles an hour, which means that the computer back in the office can calculate exactly where on your round you are supposed to be. See how modern this is? It means that the man on the ground is connected to a computer. And computers are very modern.

2.

A golf-trolley has only two positions. You can push it, or you can pull it. This is unlike the bike, which has numerous positions. You can push a bike and park it. You can push from the right hand side or you can push from the left. You can leave a bike and walk. You can scoot a bike. You can use your left leg to scoot, or your right. You can get on your bike and pedal. You can pedal standing up or you can pedal sitting down. Or you can simply sit on a bike and let it freewheel down a slope. This is obviously wrong. The Royal Mail doesn’t pay its workers to sit on bikes. It pays its workers to work. This is why the golf-trolley is much superior to the bike. The work is much harder with a golf-trolley than it is with a bike. The Royal Mail workers go home much more tired than they used to do. They ache in every bone. See how modern this is? It means the Royal Mail is getting its money’s worth.

3.

In the old days postal workers used to park up their bikes and do a loop. They would take a bundle of letters, walk up one side of the road, and then down the other. Then they would pick up their bike and cycle on to the next loop. The new delivery method is very similar. It is called “Park & Loop”. Except that instead of a bike, the postie now uses a van. This too is much more modern than a bike. Bikes don’t use diesel, whereas vans do. Bikes don’t give off Carbon Dioxide gases, whereas vans do. Bikes are cheap, whereas vans are expensive. Bikes don’t get caught in traffic, whereas vans do. Bikes don’t break down all that often, and when they do they are easy and cheap to fix, whereas when a van breaks down it has to be hauled off to a workshop. And the vans aren’t fixed in-house any more, they are fixed by a sub-contractor attached to the dealer. Meanwhile the Royal Mail has tied itself to the dictators and despots in the oil producing countries, and to a technology with hardly any future. You can’t get more modern than that.

4.

A modern means of transport

Bikes are easy to park, whereas vans are not. Bikes can be parked on the pavement, whereas vans have to be parked on the road. Vans cannot be parked where there are double yellow lines, whereas a bike can. Bikes can be leaned against a tree or on the nearest wall, whereas a van has to spend time looking for a parking place. This is the modern way of going about things. If it isn’t difficult, it isn’t worth doing. It keeps the Royal Mail workers on their toes, having to think. It blocks the rest of the traffic up while the postie parks the van, causing more hold ups and more frustration, the way the modern world was meant to be.

5.

Bikes can be used in a number of different ways: as a road vehicle, or on the pavement, as a trolley, as a scooter, as a work-station, as a place to sort and store your mail. There are several different parts to a bike. There’s the tray on the front for carrying bags, and the panniers on the back for carrying parcels. There’s the rack over the rear wheel which can be used to sort the mail. You can use the panniers for itemising the mail and helping you to remember. One pannier can be used for parcels still to be delivered, and the other for parcels which have to be returned to the office. This too is an advantage that vans and golf-trolleys have over bikes. Bikes are obviously too versatile for the modern world. Versatility is an old-fashioned virtue, like politeness or decency or cheerfulness or being concerned about our customer’s welfare. Such things can be dispensed with in the new, thrusting 21st Century world.

6.

The new delivery method involves parking up the van, getting out the golf-trolley, loading it up with bags, and then doing a loop. There are two posties in the van, doing two loops simultaneously. This has the advantage that the two posties might be travelling at different speeds. One of them might be a slow and steady type who does everything by the book. The other might be a flyer. He might jog along, skipping over walls and obstacles along the way. One postie might be old, the other might be young. One might be worn-out the other might be fit. One might be cautious the other might be carefree. This too is a good thing. Posties love their job because they love working on their own. They like going at their own speed and not being obliged to other people. Who says posties should love their job? They should learn to hate it like everyone else.

7.

The rule with the golf-trolley is that you have to take it everywhere you go. You cannot park it up and leave it, as you can a bike. A bike can be locked, whereas a golf-trolley cannot. What this means is that both hands are full. One hand is carrying the bundle, the other hand is pushing the trolley. You cannot rifle through the bundle as you are walking. You have to stop at the end of every path, sort through your bundle, and then deliver. This slows you up even more. This is a good thing. It means the postal worker is only doing one thing at a time. He is either walking or he is sorting through the mail. Postal workers are notoriously inept. They cannot walk, fart and sort at the same time. There are walking times and sorting times and farting times and each has its proper place. Walking while farting is not allowed either. In order to fart one must stop still until the gaseous emission has been satisfactorily expelled before continuing on one’s way.

8.

Golf-trolleys were originally designed for carrying golf-clubs. So naturally it would have occurred to Royal Mail executives to use them for carrying the mail. The idea must have arrived on a golf-course. One day an executive was playing golf. It was a working day so of course he was playing golf. And he realised just how much weight his golf-trolley could take. A whole heavy golf-bag of full of clubs. He had his caddy with him. It was like a neon light flickering on in his head, a sudden burst of illumination. Of course! Postal workers are just like caddies really. Why not get them to use golf-trolleys instead of bikes? And he swung his six iron and landed straight on the green.

9.

But the main advantage of the new delivery method over the old is that it doesn’t in any way take the worker’s needs into account. It was imposed from above, without consultation with the staff. It was devised in the drawing room, in the office and the boardroom. It was negotiated with the union and then presented as a fait accompli. It was either take it or leave it and take early retirement. No other choice was on offer. It doesn’t matter whether it is more efficient or less. What matters is that it has created a new disincentive for the workforce to care about their job. It has alienated the worker even more. It has reinforced the worker’s view of himself as a replaceable cog in a large and complex machine. It has reminded him of just how meaningless he is. This, of course, is entirely right and proper, because this is all he is, and the sooner he gets used to it, the better.

Welcome to the modern world.

Advertisements

Postal changes will help big business – not you!

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment
4595713_f520

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.

Yanis Varoufakis

THOUGHTS FOR THE POST-2008 WORLD

Yorkley Court Community Farm

Sustainable Agriculture in the Forest of Dean

Ian Bone

Anarchist in the UK

Opinion | The Guardian

Occasional thoughts from an overworked postie

LRB blog

Occasional thoughts from an overworked postie

AAV

Occasional thoughts from an overworked postie

[needs a title]

Help me out with a title!

sicknote

celebrate your wrong bits

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Conflicts by Ari Rusila

- [aka ex-BalkanBlog] - ISSN 2342-6675 - Conflicts , Balkans, Black Sea region, MidEast, EurAsia

London Love

My city, my home, my beloved...

Fierce Writing

Not so much Rage Against the Machine as Slightly Peeved the Taps Won't Work

The Big Hand

Publishing the Unpublishable from Next February

Think Left

The purpose of Think Left is to present a view of politics from a left-wing perspective.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.