Marjorie Ellis-Thompson

Reward for failure

Reward for failure
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My postman and me - aside from the fact that we both come out in hives whenever we hear the words ‘reform’ and ‘modernisation’, which have both ceased to have genuine meaning under ‘new’ Labour we know what it’s like to have Adam Crozier as a boss.  For Alexander (my postman) he is a remote figure, seen on TV or caricatured in cartoons passed around by protestors. He is Britain’s highest paid public servant and got a £15K bonus after only two months in the job, which is probably as much as some of the staff make. I encountered him at Saatchi &Saatchi. Within six weeks he was trying to close down Cause Connection, the unit established to promote ethical or cause related marketing.  Via the finance officer, he was demanding a profit before the unit could become operational. 


Now I read the Post Office is looking to expand its banking service, whilst its core purpose (or so we thought) delivering the post and er, running post offices, is being driven into the ground. There used to be four post offices (two run as counters in small shops) within a reasonable distance of Camberwell Green.  The smaller ones have been closed, so the choice is a drive or a bus to Dulwich Village, or standing in a queue which is never less than 30 people, with four windows out of over 10 open in the grungey and dispiriting Camberwell Green post office.  Last Friday there were over 25 people queuing out into the street at the local sorting office to pick up packages, including mothers with prams.


So Crozier is playing the role of Ian McGregor, brought in to destroy the NUM, and the Communications Union leader Billy Hayes, who sounds perfectly reasonable, gets the Times  headline ‘I’m Stronger Than Scargill’.


Postal workers do understand the need for automated sorting of the mail. But clearly that’s not the only ‘modernisation’ on the agenda, parcelling it out and selling bits of it off are, obviously.  Additionally, forcing them to work split shifts and changing their routes all the time doesn’t help.  Neither does doing unpaid overtime. This sort of practice is similar to one that people in government, local authorities and indeed the private sector might be familiar with: competing with someone else for your own job, after the organisation has been ‘downsized.’Alexander is worried that he won’t be able to retire after working all his life and enjoy the home on which he has nearly paid off the mortgage.  He joined Royal Mail 25 years ago, knowing he would never earn huge amounts but believing there would be security and stability.  He put off having a family (his son has only just started school) and now fears hewon’t be able to support him in the way in which he had hoped.


It seems nothing short of obscene that Mr Crozier will get a huge ‘bonus’, just like all those unearned City bankers’ bonuses.  The latest estimate is that he has collected £9.6 million in bonuses during his time at Royal Mail.  The fact that they are refusing to go to ACAS in itself seems like they have already anticipated the outcome.  I wonder what his next post will be.  Perhaps he could join President Blair in Europe?