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back to article Web firms seek Royal Mail rivals with GSOH for delivery fling

Online UK retailers are outlining plans to flee Royal Mail’s service following yesterday’s Communication Workers Union vote, which came out massively in favour of a national strike. The ballot showed two thirds of posties voted "yes" for strike action. The CWU currently has 121,000 members. The Royal Mail condemned the action …

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They are crap anyway!

I hope Royal Mail are in serious trouble in a few months time. Lets get the door open to competition. Sure, there will be a period of transition, but I reckon Royal Mail will be coming to an end soon enough.

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Unhappy

de ja vu

this sadly reminds of the miners, working for an ineffiecent government operation they went on strike over new working practices only to find out the customers buggered off to use something else so they all ended on scrap heap

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Strike

Worker Strike in "is disruptive" shocker.

Come on, if you wouldn't mind awfully just striking when it's convenient, for about 5 minutes? Thanks.

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FAIL

Is this not having the opposite effect to what the CWU desire?!

Surely web retail is propping up the Royal Mail in a time when t'interweb communication, mainly email and IM, have destroyed the postal market. How does the CWU think that disrupting (or even threatening to) the Christmas market will help their members financially and not end up in heavy redundancies?

Maybe its a good time for postal workers to learn to say "do you want fries with that?"

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Grenade

Deplorable, irresponsible and unnaceptable

What is deplorable, irresponsible and unnaceptable is Royal Mail bosses going to concerts instead of official negotiations and firing staff for refusing to cross legally organised picket lines at other offices, both of which have happened recently. Then there are the pay rises that were agreed to last year that staff have yet to recieve. I'm sure the BCC’s director of policy wouldn't be too happy if he hadn't recieved a pay rise he was promised.

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FAIL

But you just can't beat RM

For domestic packages under 1kg, Royal Mail is simply unbeatable. For higher value items, switching to a courier is a possibility because the margins might permit, but for low value items punters just won't pay a fair rate for a courier door to door service and so post is the only option.

In reality Play.com have no options other than RM because a DVD for £10 can't be sent any other way without losing money. The other 'postal services' in competition with RM still use RM sorting offices and postmen to deliver anyway, so they're pointless in this situation.

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Black Helicopters

Will we be better off when it's all in private hands?

Seems inevitable; there's a huge amount of money flowing through a public sector body - easy to see why that can't be tolerated when it could be making profits for someone.

Anyone prepared to bet against another perfectly useful service being sold off for less than it is is worth and us ending up paying more as a result?

If I'd ever been impressed by any of the private sector options I might be less cynical but it seems to me there's a destroy the service they can't equal never mind better and allow them to get their hands on the money we have little choice but to offer up.

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Unhappy

Phrase coining

My usual comment about the (very few remaining) 1970s-style union (in)actions is "P45 mode"...

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FAIL

Royal Snail needs decommissioning

Somebody compete against the Royal Snail so that it can be removed from the UK completely!

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FAIL

Shame, but that's progress!

This is the problem with unions in a wealthy, capitalist society. There will almost always be someone else ready to stump up and take the business, be it energy ( miners strikes, post above ), cars ( Leyland during the 70s) and now Royal Mail.

RM may not go down completely, but they will be relegated to faded memory and a shadow of their former selves, with that all those workers chucked out.

Unions makes sense in a third-world country or dodgy extreme governments, where if working people don't pull together they will end up being put of out work, beaten for speaking up or worse killed for making simple humanitarian demands in their workplaces. In a affluent societies like here in the UK, the unions days have come to and end.

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Top Tip

Want to keep your job? Don't strike.

If you screw your employer over and they lose customers, then your employer may not be around to employ you and you lose your job through your own idiocy.

Unions - killing British industry in the name of British jobs.

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Megaphone

@Dave Murray 11:43

I don't care. All I know is my postal service, which I rely upon, is being held hostage by you/them!

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FAIL

Hold the phone...

Has anyone actually seen/heard the specific demands from both sides?

The unions must be aware of the backlash they will receive by holding a strike at this time of the year so the repercussions for their members must be pretty bad... Either that, or they're completely out of touch!!

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Stop

Fk em.

These unions, not just the CWU but the RMT and all the others playing the lets see how much we can leach the taxpayer for menial jobs for, don't seem to realise that they're going to be solely resposible for the Conservative government getting re-elected, who won't stand for all this bull.

They'll water down the minimum wage, repeal the Trade Union Recognition Act and generally attack worker's rights. Just remember in 18 months - I called it and it's your own fault.

None of the general public supports your cause and all you're doing is annoying voters. Good luck with that.

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Idiots really!

So with more and more competitors, and less and less post going through royal mail, they think that striking is a good idea?

I recently paid 10p more to send something via DHL and it arrived next day, where are royal mail said up to 5 days.... well worth the 10p.

Maybe they would be able to strike if they wheren't getting battered by every competitor already!

All I hope is that we get more compition in the market, and see the end of royal mail.

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Re: Deplorable, irresponsible and unnaceptable

No one outside Royal Mail cares.

Look, it's a business, we pay you money for a service. You either provide that service or not. If not, the internal details of the dispute are a complete irrelevance to us.

If you order and pay for something from me, and we don't give it to you, would you be happy if I told you that I was withholding it in order to put pressure on my boss to get a better salary?

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FAIL

Beyond a joke

Also worth noting that many people have been severely affected by the many "unofficial" strikes over recent weeks.

I happened to be passing a big meeting outside a post office in which the union rep said he couldn't be at the strike as he about to start a 5 week holiday. Hard life huh?

The moment you walk into a post office you know they don't care about the customer. What happens at the lunch time peak period? Yup, they start their lunches. It's akin to a restaurant closing for lunch.

In the real world of business you would have peak staff at peak times and none of this 45-60 minutes to post 5-10 parcels which is what I'm subjected to two or three times a week. Asda will open checkouts when more than a couple of people are waiting. I am OFTEN in queues out the door at the Post Office because only 2 counters are open.

Royal Mail, free tip for you; 20+ people standing around waiting indicates that the current level of open counters is inefficient. During these times (often called peak time or lunch time) you will get busier because people, like me, are using you during their lunch break. Lunch times occur between 12pm and 2pm. When peak times occur the object of your business is to R E D U C E the numbers of people waiting. This can be done by making sure over half of your work force do not go out for lunch at the same time.

You have the adequate number of staff so explain to them that peak time rushes tend to occur at the same time each and ever day and if they are unsure they should write down the times when the queues stretch out of the door. These are called the peak times and everyone going off for lunch at these times is bad mmmm'kay!

I wish I had more parcels per day so I could dump Royal Mail for a company that knows how to run its business!

We need a kick up the ass icon because every aspect of Royal Mail needs it!

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Workshy Layabouts

The Post Office is a desperately inefficient mess that's probably gone far too far down the path of ruin to be rescued. The workers have got so used to their cushy 'Spanish practices' (for example, being paid overtime during their normal working hours) that they fail to see that the rest of the world has moved on. I suspect most of these workers would be horrified to get a job in any modern organisation, and be paid (the horror) to actually work their hours, or be paid on results.

They're overstaffed, overly lazy, and have no sympathy from me.

Workshy layabouts.

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Unhappy

Re. Spanish Practices

Having done a bit more digging to see if I could find some of the hilarious work and pay conditions that the CWU seems to feel is their workers inalienable right; I found these from the last big strike in the Autumn of 2007:

* Two or three hour minimum daily overtime - so if 30 minutes of actual work is required and completed, then between two and three hours' payment is demanded;

* An additional allowance claimed for using particular vehicles - regardless of whether the individual has actually driven the vehicle;

* Automatic overtime if mail volumes reach a certain level - regardless of how many ordinary working hours remain that day;

* If a delivery round is finished before the end of the paid shift, the employee expects to be able to go straight home. But if it takes 10 minutes longer two to three hours' over time is claimed;

* Set overtime level is claimed at Christmas, even if there is no need for any additional hours and no extra hours are worked;

* An additional two hour payment on Easter Saturday - regardless of whether any work required;

* No flexibility between different parts of the same sorting office - if an employee sorts letters for a particular postcode, they will not sort for the adjacent postcode, even though both activities are often in the same room;

* Signing in and out for a shift on arrival - so that no record of actual hours worked exists;

* Collection drivers expect overtime pay for doing collections outside usual route - even if it is done within usual working hours;

* Overtime to cover for an absent colleague - a full day is claimed, even if only half day needed and worked;

* Ban on any cross functional working, even of similar tasks under the same roof;

* Additional meal and grace breaks as custom and practice

Anyone else get these where they work? Didn't think so.

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You would think...

..that people would learn. What is the point in making your point by putting the business you work for into even more of a precarious position, motivating clients to choose the competition, and generally regardless of the "noble" motivations of your action annoying pretty much everyone?

Strike action works great when there is no competition - you don't lose out so much since there is no alternative, but these days? How many delivery companies are straining for a piece of the RM pie in the UK? Lots!

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

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FAIL

Capitalist Natural Selection

This is essentially a legal cartel/collusion/blackmail against a company which is fighting for it's life. The CWT is kicking Royal Mail while it's already down on the ground and if they're not careful they won't have any jobs to go back to.

At the end of the day, people should just adapt to the changing market and go and get a job doing something useful. If someone invented an AI machine which could generate software automatically, I'd be pissed off but I'd have to go and learn a new profession.

The CWU members seem to think they have an innate right to continue doing the same job forever, regardless of whether that job is generating any income for the company.

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IT Angle

@AC, 12:35

Royal mail != Post office. For some reason.

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Grenade

@RichyS @ 12:39

I vaguely supported the postal strikes (Although I agree that modernisation is essential) as I had always believed that they were fighting for reasonable working conditions and to try and prevent redundancies - even though it's quite clear that protracted action can only cause redundancies. Now I see what their working practices are, all sympathy has gone out of the window.

Can't they get it into their thick heads that they can't survive by doing that sort of thing when they are not a monopoly.

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Emo

And they wonder why

post levels are dropping. I've switched all my bills etc to email,

It's far more convenient.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Dave Murray

How about Billy Hayes, head of the CWU, 83k+ salary and just under 15k annual salary contributions?

Bet he won't be suffering during the strike, unlike his idiot supporters. Maybe he'll have a lovely expensive meal at a nice Michelin starred place in a show of solidarity?

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Bronze badge

sad but true

I know many decent posties who know their area and are conscientious and helpful. I also know that RM has policies to reduce their costs by inconveniencing their customers, not just too few staff in post offices at peak times, but also the 'tried to deliver but you were out' cards for parcels when the parcel wasn't actually there to be delivered. The latter is a long-standing scam to get customers to flog themselves to the depots. And so on. They close local post offices at the same time Tescos and the like are opening little 'Tesco Metros' in a reverse strategy. With the Govt pulling out of using post offices to deliver services, RM has only the bottom end of the mail service: bulk mail, letters, stuff they can make cheap to send because of volume. The only sort of strategy you can have around that is the Asda/Pound-shop mentality: cheap and piled high. RM is pretending it gives a high-quality service when it should be cheerfully servicing the low-level market. Until they get used to the fact that they are running a Lidl and, sadly, their staff get used to it too, they will find their hopes and actual reality on divergent paths.

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Growth

It's not a difficult concept. If your business volumes are increasing, you hire more people to handle them. If your business volumes are decreasing, you have to remove people. If you go on strike to protest the loss of jobs, and in the meantime your customers switch to another provider -- here's the important part -- does that increase or decrease your business volume?

Answers on a postcard, of course!

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Now Thats Service

Where I live the post person will collect my mail, leave a bill if I have not left the money out/or wrong amount, is respected so much that we all clear the ice/snow so they can get down the lane,

they deliver on Saturdays, are polite and charming and always get a tip at christmas.

No, they are not royal mail!!, you lot need to start up your own postal service, call it Peoples Post (c)

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FAIL

When I were a lad...

Our postie used to delivery before I went out to do my morning paper round. Now, I'm lucky if post is delivered before 11:00. Also only post collection is at 16:30, not the first post, the only one! And if I'm not in they don't re-deliver the next day, I have to go and collect from a depot!

New, improved, streamlined, lean, efficient service just ain't what it used to be!

Plus I've never understood unions - the only action they seem to have is to strike. IT and office workers would be sacked if we tried that to get a pay rise! (I haven't had one for 2 years).

</rant>

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@ Mister Cheese

Actually the split between the Post Office and Royal Mail is one that I heartily agree with.

The post office is more than just a place to buy stamps, it one of the centers of community life providing access to a wide range of comsumer/citizen services and I would fight tooth and nail (well, sign a petition or something) to keep a local Post Office open.

The Royal Mail on the other hand are simply a transport and logistics service which it would seem are out competed on pretty much everything except price and even there it's a close run thing. In fact the best I can say for Royal Mail is they keep the price of the other transport and logistics companies low in order to compete and without RM I suspect sending a parcel with any of the remaining companies will become much pricer.

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God help us if the Royal Mail goes

A private courier cound not deliver a parcel to me because I had put the wrong post code on it. I had asked for it to be delivered to my workplace whuch is a big massive building which is actually signposted and because I was the last digit out they cound not find me. Next parcel came royal mail with the wrong post code and they still managed to deliver it next day.

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Anonymous Coward

The Royal Mail will be Privatised (by hook or by the crooks)

14 Jan 2009 ... Business secretary says government will press on with plan to bring 'gale force of fresh air' to state-owned company's management structure.

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jan/.../peter-mandelson-post

Adam Crozier has been coerced (not difficult) by the dark lord to provoke a Royal Mail strike, which will lose sympathy for those who remember what privatisation has done to our other industries (14%-60%above inflation rise in leccy prices b4 2020 anyone ?)

That the union members don't see this is a tragedy, that the union leaders (with one eye on the honours list) don't tell their members this is bordering on criminal.

Royal Mail will be sold off cheaply to some city boys and all you tatbay fans will be wingeing that it costs a fortune and stuff never turns up.

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FAIL

Useless

Sent some documents first-class a few weeks ago, in an area that wasn't blighted by their strikes. It took 7 days for them to travel 6 miles. And I've actually lost count of the number of letters and packages to/from me they've lost in the last 12 months. Not to mention the "we've taken your package back to the sorting office" cards that come through the door despite no-one ringing the doorbell.

They complain about poor pay rises. What about the rest of us? I didn't get one last time around, neither did anyone else in my office. News for them: if business isn't good, you won't be getting one.

Fsck them, I say. The strikes will kill the business and something better will spring up in its place (nothing could be worse), hopefully not staffed by the same useless, greedy, good-for-nothings that currently work there. Now if only I could find a way to not have to pay for their dole money.....

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Flame

Of course ...

If the greedy rabble of private companies who now feast off what *used* to be Royal Mail's profitable business were required to provide the same universal service, covering the whole UK, it might matter less, or not at all, if RM did disappear.

As it is, RM struggles still to provide proper, universal service without the income to keep it going - a recipe for disaster or, at least, progressively more expensive mail. Either force the greedy rabble to provide a proper, universal service at one price like RM, or put our country back together again, please.

If you break up a country's infrastructure, as the evil Thatcher did in spades, you can't be surprised when stuff stops working properly. Private companies don't exist to provide a service, they exist to channel your money into their shareholders' pockets by the easiest possible route, which doesn't include troublesome deliveries to more remote places like Shetland.

Flame on.

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Go on - strike! Who cares?

Very quiet mail day at home today. Only 2 items.

One for a different street, the other an unaddressed circular. I'm registered with Royal Mail Door to Door opt outs, so that's 2 items and 2 screw ups. Last week mail was left outside. When challenged the postie said..."Oh, I didn't see the letter box". It's plumb in the centre of the door where it has been for 10 years.

I paid for KeepSafe, they sent my mail back to sender saying Gone Away. I paid for a Post Box, they could not find it (the BOX!!!) when I called to collect, and again, and again. Every single item posted by Recorded Delivery was not found by their computer reporting system. Response..... We aim to provide the same level of service to all our customers. That's for sure. How low can you go and still believe you can continue to exist. Go ahead, lads. Strike. We don't care any more.

And don't forget to put the prices up after that. as you usually do.

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Flame

I did one day of a contract with Royal Mail...

and over my desk was a big plasma telly playing the same clip over and over. Some PO bigwig explaining that the new delivery times etc were so that 'we can deliver when its convenient for US'. I left after one day as such regular bouts of breathtaking arrogance nearly suffocated me.

I also had to abandon a parcel as RM would not deliver it without a signature and it was impossible for me to collect said parcel without taking a morning off work.

A word to Royal Mail (and Post Office Counters come to that) managers and workers. RM is NOT there for your convienience, nor is it there to give you a job. It is there as a SERVICE for its CUSTOMERS. If you claim to have tried to deliver a parcel, but have made no such attempt (even though you have been paid for it) then that is FRAUD. Likewise if I send a parcel recorded delivery, but you don't get a signature because 'X government department does not sign for things'.

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@Beyond a joke

Anonymous Coward - are you in the same world as I am? Everybody wants to go to lunch at that time so there is minimal coverage to provide a service regardless of what the service is.:Asda, Tesco, The Post Office and the worst of the lot: the banks. Their "available hours" are not in line with the real world are they and something we mindlessly tolerate.

Unfortunately the real world businesses won't employ more staff because they cost money.

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And a lot still miss something important.

Point 1, in reality, will any us in actuality notice the difference when the national strike occurs, already it takes around 4 days for delivery of a first class letter, which should be next day delivery, so what difference does one more day make.

Point 2, in reference to Billy Hayes, and the commentard about the 2007 strikes, I think you'll find most of the damage done between RM and the CWU, occurred under the management of one Alan Johnson, now Home Secretary, and what a complete f+++++t, he's turned out to be at that job too.

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Dead Vulture

@The ballot showed two thirds of posties voted "yes" for strike action.

Umm, not according to the BBC they didn't ...

"Royal Mail said 60% of postal workers working in the UK did not vote to strike.

The ballot found 61,623 out of a total of 80,830 workers said they wanted to take action .."

So 61,623 out of 121,000 CWU members voted for the strike .. that's 50.9% of posties in the union, not 66% ... big difference and shows its not a clear cut decision.

Also if we believe Royal Mail's percentage then actually there are 154,000 postal workers and 92,000 did NOT vote for the strike, that's ... ahh modern democracy in action. The minority ruins it for the majority ... or put it another way, the silent majority have stayed too silent.

The CWU appear to be stuck in the 70's and its such a shame that Royal Mail should come to this as the service they provide is extremely good for the price paid ... just compare it with the rest of the world.

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AFAIK

The biggest problem with the Royal Mail is they don't know what kind of organisation they are, they're a hybrid between the worst components of a private and public organisation.

Ultimately, they need to modernise and shape up and quite frankly, in this day and age the unions need to be disbanded!

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Break it up!

RM should be broken up into regions and forced to compete with itself.

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Re: @The ballot showed two thirds of posties voted "yes" for strike action.

"The minority ruins it for the majority ... or put it another way, the silent majority have stayed too silent."

Or their ballots got lost in the post...

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Gates Horns

@Dick Emery

I have a lot of sympathy for the Royal Mail. This government, sorry I meant this corrupt government, (I think the Tories would be worse mind you) allowed Royal mail to get the poor side of an uneven deal.

As a poster mentioned earlier on, it is incredible that Adam Crozier has ties to the competitors who are getting the large slice of the easy side of the cake by collecting a large sum of cash and then giving a loss making sum to Royal Mail to deliver their mail that is supposed to be their own. How many postment with TNT on their jackets deliver letters to the front door?

The posties I imagine can see this ridiculous situation and I guess they are all angry. It is no different to the bankers loosing large wads of the nations cash and expecting the tax payers and the lower paid workers to bail them out. This country stinks! Lets vote some proper people in power to represent us and some people we can trust and respect.

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Stop

Privatisation isn't always the answer....

Anybody here remember Railtrack? As an employee of its successor, I do. Even though British Rail consumed about £900m in public subsidy every year, that was far more efficient than Railtrack at even the lowest trough in it's spending freeze, and we are all too painfully aware of the consequences of that "sweating of the assets".

Be under no illusion that even a privatised RM would not still have to be subsidised in return for its Universal Service Obligations. Instead you would have public money pouring into a company which HM Govt has little control over. ala Railtrack. At Network Rail we are still paying for the excesses of our privatised forebears with over-elaborate working practices, wages that have doubled (or in some cases trebled) since BR, many different sets of T's & C's. NR now consumes a declining annual subsidy of £4bn a year (paid both directly and via subsidised Track Access Charges), and that is only the infrastructure of the railway, not the passenger operations, of which BR ran both. The government-run BR was the most efficient rail operator in Europe and was held up as an example to others such as Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Societe Nationale de Chemin du Fer Francais and Deutsche Bahn. It's real time performance figures were comparable to todays, as were fares and passenger satisfaction (though records do not extend back far enough for proper comparison).

The best answer for RM would be as a previous commentator has suggested... make the private companies pay-up or get out. The private companies should be required to have a Universal Service Obligation and should be required to carry their own mail over the final mile, or else they should be forced to pay the cost of a stamp (minus sorting and collection costs and say 1p for a profit margin) to Royal Mail to do it for them. That is the only way there will ever be a level playing field.

John Major privatised the railways to break up the power of the RMT and ASLEF, and look what that got us. A confused industry that costs twice as much as it used to (in real terms) that is now the example in Europe of how not to run a railway. Unfortunately, France now looks set to repeat our mistakes.

I post anonymously as there is a re-org happening, and I don't want to provide NR with an excuse to give me the chop, but I am a regular poster to these forums.

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Bronze badge

Can't wait...

..for RM's pay office to go on strike. Wapping-time, if anyone remembers Fleet Street.

I can't EVER believe that folks still in Broken Britain still put up with this...

Fuc*king Unbelievable. You Britards have only yourselves to blame. Get the fuc*k OUT!!!!

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Pint

Good god

I hope it doesn't get sold to the private sector. If a new owner could buy Royal Mail and make a profit by making things run smoother (+whatever else) why can't the govt. do the same? and take the cash to do stuff with.

BUT BLOODY HELL DON'T SELL IT! It's value will be depressed in this financial climate and be sold for less than it is worth. Following the sale all the unprofitable parts of the service will be cut (Who makes and grows our food? Oh wait... People actually live in the country side!). It will cost you more to post something to Scotland from London than it would to Manchester. You would probably have to buy a separate stamp for each region the item travels through to get the cheapest deal. (Sound familiar?)

We used to have the best rail network in the world and took our knowledge abroad to build other nations rail networks. Then we sold it and now arguably have one of the worst and most confusing networks in the West, heck, there is even talks about nationalising it or parts of it again in future.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article1642806.ece

The thing people seem to forget when we have a government we don't particularly like is that they are there to serve US (no, really), and the private sector is out to serve itself, the shareholders and the CEOs.

Sorry for the long post, but to sum up I say don't give in to the greedy (w)bankers, CEOs, board members and majority shareholders. Lets get a functioning government (don't ask me which!) and sort out our national treasures.

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FAIL

@AC Top tip

"Unions - killing British industry in the name of British jobs."

Fuck off - the biggest heist in human history has just been pulled off by the financial sector without a union in sight. Whole countries are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and the taxpayer is in hock for generations. Funny how the 'rules' of capitalism only seem to apply to those who only have leverage in numbers, innit? I for one would much rather subsidise postmen, miners, street cleaners, health, than these sociopaths, any day.

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Grenade

Greedy Trough Divers

Just like virtually all public sector workers (with the exception of frontline medical staff and our servicemen and women) they're all a bunch of workshy money-grubbing layabouts and with close to 3 mil unemployed if I were Gordo I'd sack the lot of them and see what they think about their pay and conditions when they're on the dole.

I hope everyone makes alternative arrangements and RM wind up bankrupt, at least in the private sector you know they'd be made to earn their money rather than sponging off everyone else, with their kind of perks I'm tempted by career change!

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