Saturday, 19 September 2009

In Defence Of The Postmen

The main issue at the heart of the postal dispute is this:
Years ago when a postman finished his delivery early he would return to the office and be made to sort mail until his shift ended then go home.
If he finished his delivery late he would book overtime for this.
Of course this booking of overtime was obviously open to abuse as no-one knew if the postman really was late or just swinging the lead.
So Royal Mail came up with a solution called 'job and finish'.
Job and finish was this: if you returned to the office early having finished your delivery then you could go home early, but if you returned to the office late you did not get overtime for this.
So, it saved the firm a fortune in overtime and postmen also got to go home early on quiet days.
But soon after all of this Royal Mail stopped taking on full time postmen. Every time a full time postman left/retired/got the sack he was replaced by a part timer on (say) a thirty hour contract and the remaining full time postmen would then absorb the ten hours of work (between the forty hour job and the new thirty hour postman).
This of course led to a gradually increasing workload for the remaining full time postmen.
Fast forward about five years to today and in most delivery offices the full time/part time ratio is about fifty fifty.
You can imagine the increased workload.
Where in the past there was a 'swings and roundabouts' approach to things (you'll make time somedays lose time others) now it's a case of 'you'll lose a little time some days and a lot of time others'.
If a postman asks a manager to be paid for the extra work he has to do (some days up to three hours) he's told 'job and finish' - you'll make up the time on quiet days, which of course now is rubbish.
So postmen are now working probably about forty five hours a week for forty hours pay - which is okay if you're salaried but postmen are NOT they are contracted to be paid by the hour.
So there you have it. The actual CRUX of the dispute.
There are other things going on of course and management and the union will fall out all day long, but for postmen it's all about being forced to work for nothing.
How do I know all this - well it's because I am a postman of course!!


subrosa said...

Thanks for that very clear explanation RR. Now I understand what's going on.

JPT said...

Subrosa: No problem - as I say there are definately OTHER issues clouding the scene but for the average postman on the street so to speak this is the main one - although listening to management and the unions debate things on tv and radio both of them seem out of touch, vague and of course miles apart!

James Higham said...

That's very, very interesting. I never knew how that was done and of course, how the government f---ed it up.

MK said...

One thing i find about a lot of these organizations private and public, is that eventually you get screwed, one way or another, you eventually get the shaft.

JPT said...

And just for the record, today (Monday) I worked eight hours forty minutes and got paid for seven hours!

Jeannine said...

That is all quite wretched. My middle brother is a postman in the US, and they still do things the 'job and finish' way.