Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Royal Mail

The first letter to the editor in a recent issue of the London Review of Books came from a postman, who offered a relatively lengthy take on how the Royal Mail is misusing its employees. The first paragraph is below. It goes on for a while after that -- you can read the rest here -- and the whole thing is oddly fascinating. I thought so, anyway. What’s more, the postman’s name -- and we can only hope it's real -- is Pat Stamp.
Like Roy Mayall writing in your issue of 24 September, I am a postman and concerned at the absence in the media of any account of how mail delivery is organised and what Royal Mail’s modernisation programme entails. The programme was introduced because the popularity of email and texting has caused a drop in mail volume. Royal Mail’s first step was to reduce the number of walks. It did this by cutting some walks in each area and making the remaining walks longer. A postman who normally delivered mail to six streets, say, now found himself delivering to eight or nine. During the summer months, when mail volumes were low, he could, perhaps, just cope with this. But as autumn begins and the Christmas catalogues start to come out, every week and sometimes every day can be heavy. In the run-up to last Christmas, there were postmen who only finished their walks at 7 or 8 p.m., sometimes two or three times a week. In one depot alone, around 15 postmen phoned in sick. This Christmas, with the even longer walks, it could be worse. Royal Mail is a strong promoter of general health and safety, but as the walks lengthen and the loads increase, many of us feel that our own health isn’t being taken into consideration.


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