OK, Brace Yourselves……

by wjohngalloway

Sarah (girl sprogg) was taken ill with a stomach bug at school this morning, so I’m having a day at home with her instead of grafting at the postface. Since I’ve had a bit of time to think, I thought I’d comment on the recent media coverage about the Royal Mail. Although, having signed the Official Secrets Act (like all posties), I may be hauled away mid blog.
1: Strike Action. There’s going to be very limited strike action as a result of RM plans to close some local offices down south. Chatting with fellow posties everyone’s aware that the business need to streamline and modernize but these, like many other changes recently made, seem completely arbitrary and there’s been minimal consultation.
2: 4mph, although RM seems to be backtracking furiously on this one and we were told by a senior union rep that RM was now aiming for a 2.2mph average on a route.
2.2mph? An easy stroll eh?
Forget for a moment the delivery bit of a postman’s duty. Just imagine a 5 mile duty in a hilly town like Peebles. Put a reasonably hefty bag on one shoulder and walk at a comfortably brisk pace. Now, let’s add in the time it takes to put the mail through the letterbox, which varies depending on the box since tiny boxes or new ones with stiff brushes both take longer than normal as does a large number of items for a single delivery point. Don’t even get me started on boxes low down on doors!
Now let’s add in the time it takes to shuffle through the mail to get the next delivery point’s mail ready. RM insists that you’re stationary whilst doing that for health and safety reasons (most posties aren’t and are breaking the rules to try and be quicker).
Now, all that stationary time drags down your average speed. So, whilst moving you now have to go significantly faster than 2.2mph.(remember, you’re carrying a heavy bag now!)
What if you’ve got a parcel to deliver and the addressee is out. You’ve got to write a P739 “Sorry You Were Out” card and deliver that having stood waiting at the door to see if they’re in.
Got a Special delivery item when no-ones in? A P739 is necessary and also a phone call back to the Delivery Office to let them know about the failure before the 1pm deadline.
The 6 or so stops at pouch boxes to replenish your bag? More time stood still.
All of this is stationary time that drags down your average.
Moving? you better get faster and faster to compensate!
Got a Special Delivery that’s @ the end of your route that you won’t get to before 1pm because RM are moving start times for duties later and later? Well you’ll just have to rejig the way you do your route (which adds time).
Got Specials @ the start, in the middle and @ the end of your route? Good luck with that!
I reckon that to achieve a 2.2mph average then your moving speed would be around..eeeeeerrrrrm…4mph!
Every year there’s a drive to cut costs. Well I’ll be blunt. In an open competitive market the only way for RM to survive is to split itself up and concentrate it’s efforts on the profitable bits of the business that all of our competitors currently cherry pick, whilst we’re obliged to actually deliver the items they’ve poached from RM because “the last mile” isn’t profitable.
Universal daily delivery will have to go, since a postie driving 2 miles up a dirt track to deliver a single first class letter isn’t economically viable.
Bottom Line? The government (RM’s shareholder) need to decide whether it wants RM to implode or whether it’s a public service and fund it accordingly.
I can’t speak for other offices…….but mine? Yep, there are a few folk who don’t work as hard as they could….but there are far more posties who come in half an hour before the official start time to try to get out on delivery at a reasonable time.
Posties who are scared to put in overtime even on demonstrably heavy days in case they appear slow.
Posties who aren’t taking breaks to try and get round on time.
Posties who are bending Health and Safety rules (seatbelts etc) to try and get round on time.
I’m sure there are even a few posties breaking more serious regulations, all in the drive to get faster. Some of the older guys are terrified!
Something has to give, and currently it’s morale and standard of service to the public.

….and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I love it!