Why the Royal Mail, just like everyone else, must accept modernisation to survive

So the Royal Mail strike began today, with further strikes set to take place tomorrow. And, personally, I really can’t see that any of this is going to do any good for anyone involved.

We all won’t get our post, in turn we’ll start to use the post even less, and that in turn will jeopardise even more Royal Mail jobs than necessary or will jeopardise the entire Royal Mail as a business all together. So, for the first time in a while, I agree with Gordon Brown, who said that “the strike will be self-defeating if all it means is that less people use the Royal Mail”.

And as much as I sympathise with the post workers who feel they have been ‘mucked around’ over the last few years, I also can’t help but see this from a business point of view and think about the numerous workers in other sectors and businesses who have also been made redundant, had their pay or hours slashed or feel as though they’ve been badly treated by management because of the effects of changing times and new technology.

Changes in other professions

What about the countless heads which have rolled in the world of journalism, particularly in the past few years? Journalists have had to roll with the punches in a time when newspaper and magazine circulation is largely falling, the internet is becoming ever more popular as a source of news, and advertising revenues have fallen due to the credit crunch.

And it’s not just the big publications where the headcount has been slashed, all the smaller, regional titles have also had to dish out numerous redundancies, in fact, according to a Guardian article written back in March,  “More than 900 regional journalists have been made redundant since July – with further cuts to come”.

So, in every industry, in every business, these things can and do and will happen, and giving us all another reason not to use the Royal Mail to correspond with each other is going to do Royal Mail employees a lot more harm than good.

Alienating their audience

I’m the kind of person who actually quite likes using the post for certain things. If I can, I would rather settle bills by sending cheques through the post and for me sending birthday cards or letters by post can often seem more personal than an email or ‘e-cards’.

But I’m not going to feel like doing this if I’m worried my payment could be late, or I could miss someone’s birthday because workers at The Royal Mail are unhappy about their working conditions.

And businesses are starting to follow suit as well. According to the BBC’s very useful Q&A article about the strikes, “business organisations are recommending that their customers by-pass the postal system completely for important things such as paying bills”. And indeed John Lewis announced that it is “switching the business to other carriers” in order to not be affected by the strikes.

As far as I can tell technology is available, (known as the “walk sequencing machine”) to make the postal system quicker and cheaper, and able to operate with less staff than Royal Mail currently utilises. Therefore, if Royal Mail is unable to utilise this technology, it can only be a matter of time before someone with plenty of money and good business sense will take it upon themselves to start their own national postal delivery service, using this technology from word go, therefore offering a cheaper and more reliable service to its customers and in turn this will slowly kill off Royal Mail all together.

As much as I feel for the Royal Mail workers, as indeed no one likes to feel that their livelihood is in jeopardy, this is just business. These days you have to be able to adapt with the times otherwise both your own job and possibly even the company you work for will just fall flat on its face. As a fan, I do hope these strikes so not spell the end of the Royal Mail, but, with my business hat on, I can’t help but worry about their long term prospects right now.

By Sophie Hudson

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