Topic: Privatisation of the Post Office

Lots of us use the PO to buy and sell stuff, lots of punx are postal workers- anyone seen anything that might give us an idea of what ramifications this will have for our community?

NOTE: I am wary of turning this into an ideological shitfight, as I'm sure there are plenty of folk on here that are "pro" or "indifferent". For the record I am "anti" and a little shocked how this has seemingly passed with little attention or clamour.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

it's the royal mail that is being privatised, not the PO. two very different entities.

personally i think it's a shambles. the RM has made a handy profit these past 2 years. i can't see it improving the service, it won't really have any specific ramifications for teh punx other than you probably should make sure you get your proof of postage receipts every time once it happens.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

I'm with you on the 'anti' and also shocked at how the torys have managed to just go ahead with thier evil privatisation schemes, something they've been playing since thatcher i presume.

The public seem to be in the dark about it all and the torys way of fobbing off postal workers with naff shares and bullshit about competition is insulting.

you still bore me...

4 (edited by mark ism 11-07-2013 11:34:34)

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

Yeah, my mistake, I chose to say post office instead of RM as I thought it was a more readily identifiable term- duh.

And Andy is right- DO keep your receipts! I stupidly wrote on the back of one recently which then ended up in the bin, days before a package I had assumed would have arrived went missing- double duh.

Plus- I assume the fact that they are making a "tidy profit" is behind the long-wished for sell off.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

If RM is privatised and PO not then will PO offer services from a range of private service providers or will it remain RM exclusive?

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

in my country, they de-regulaised the post / the mail a few years ago, which i guess amounts to the same thing?

as far as i can tell, deregulation has been one of the reasons for my countrys' SKY-HIGH postage rates, it also resulted in the closure of tons of post offices, and basically a general state of confusion as it's now near impossible to post stuff. in my home town there was like 3 different post offices, the old state owned branch had downsized to a smaller shop and across the street there were two private post offices. total confusion. last summer i sent a lp mailer with some small bits and pieces to Japan and had to pay something like £50 in postage. totally shocked. in the uk it'd cost perhaps £15.

7 (edited by elektra boogie 11-07-2013 15:01:47)

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

I don't know too much on details of the RM deal so can't make a proper judgement but I tend to be "anti" simply because the record of privatising 'assets' like this seems to almost universally be piss poor. 

What annoys me is that even if you subscribe to the logic (I don't) that privatisation should work because the profit incentive inspires greater efficiency and performance it is rarely ever applied in its pure form.  For example, countless times, companies involved in PFI and other similar deals routinely miss targets, face massive discontent from users of services and even fail completely and yet can rely on government support as the services involved are too important or big to be allowed to fail - you significantly damage the incentive to improve if you know that the consequences of failure are less significant.  The whole principle is supposed to be that profit inspires improvement and loss deters it - but often the deals are so strung up that much of the losses get covered regardless and the absurd length of the contracts (sometimes 25 years or more) provide an argument that improvements will come "long term".  Companies seem to repeatedly be able to hold people to ransom and say "yeah, we fucked up, but what are you going to do?  Not have a trainline/post service/benefit IT system etc.?".  I'd begin to understand if companies in that situation had their contracts terminated (i.e. the competition argument in action) but more often they just seem to be bailed out - or if not, have their contracts paid up to avoid a legal dispute.

Particularly with the RM example it seems such a danger because postage is surely (I imagine) a pretty stable market in many respects.  As in, no matter how much things move increasingly towards online communication people are still going to have to post packages and letters on a semi regular basis.  So whilst it is competitive to some extent between different providers that can only go so far - companies like this, with the infrastructure they have, know that people will still have to use them - and that skews the results.  For example it seems to me a lot like rail privatisation.  The line that gets me back to visit family is ran by First Great Western.  In 7 years my ticket price has risen from circa £19 to around £33.  Do I use the train route any less?  No - because I have no other way to get there.  Am I happy with the price and service?  No.  But on paper they could argue that people are still happy because usage remains relatively stable and people keep using trains.  Surely the same goes for posting a letter?  Regardless of how I feel about it i'll still have to post stuff - and that NECESSITY can be exploited because there are simply no, or limited, alternatives.

Nous ne voulons pas d'un monde ou la certitude je suis un pomme de terre de ne pas mourir de faim s'echange contre le risque de mourir d'ennui

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

I'm anti for the obvious reasons. Once i'm more clued up, i'll post (unintentional pun) more about it. I'm seeing it as an employee & a customer. After yesterdays announcement we're awaiting a meeting to be held by the CWU. If anyone has specific questions i'll try my best to answer them.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

Well, if previous privatisations are anything to go by it's gonna be a disaster for the ordinary punter/user, while financial institutions cream off the profits. As mentioned earlier, this "shares for workers" thing is nothing but a fob-off.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

adamski wrote:

Well, if previous privatisations are anything to go by it's gonna be a disaster for the ordinary punter/user, while financial institutions cream off the profits. As mentioned earlier, this "shares for workers" thing is nothing but a fob-off.

Quite a few years ago we were given something called collegue shares.  We were told that after so many years we could cash them in by selling them back to Royal Mail. The value of them would depend on how financially sound they were but we would defo get something back. As the cash in date grew closer we were told they were worth fuck all. Not even a penny each. Invisible shares worth nothing. You could say i'm slighty sceptical about the whole thing.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

thing is, privatisation wasn't a disaster for the railways:-

there's been similar improvements in rail freight as well.

as for gas & electricity the UK has the lowest utility prices in western europe. oh, and 'Sid' would have been wise to have bought British Gas shares.

Water - there's been significant improvements in water quality and reductions in leakges/outages etc

as for BT, I get a smartphone with free internet and more phones/texts than i can possibly use for less than the rental on a BT landline used to be.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

ewan wrote:

thing is, privatisation wasn't a disaster for the railways

not in terms of how many people use them but imagine if the people that ran the railway franchises:

1) actually invested in them
2) ran services that benefited the customer instead of sardined them into packed peak time services that they pay through the nose for
3) had a fair charging system that didn't mean it cost £200 for a ticket from london to manchester and batshit stuff like that.
4) had to be committed to them instead of being able to bail out on a franchise if it didn't work out

the franchises are even subsidised, which makes the whole thing even more nuts.

13 (edited by RobxT 11-07-2013 17:10:05)

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

Without debating your specific point Ewan, I think your use of that graph is a little disingenuous; the fact more people have traveled further and more freight has been moved is the result of plenty of other factors than public-vs-private (from population growth to diversification of industry), it's hard to say if the graph would look very different if it was or wasn't privatized (unless you're simply suggesting that if it had not been privatized the industry couldn't have kept up with the demands of industry/commuters, which is hard to judge). Would that graph look very different for countries with a largely non-privatised rail industry (like Germany)? And like Andy said, subsidies complicate the whole issue...

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

175,000 signed the petition for Virgin to keep the West Coast Mainline franchise
40,000 like Bring Back British Rail on facebook

1) a lot do invest. those Virgin trains are well plush

2) but people do want to travel at rush hour. that's why it's rush hour ;-)

it might have helped if, barely a decade after nationalisation, the government hadn't decided to close 1/3 of the lines

3) the fare system is great for non-business users. loads of discounts available for booking off-peak in advance.

4) back to virgin again, surely being willing to go to court shows some commitment to running a train line

15 (edited by AlexN 11-07-2013 17:17:11)

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

From my personal experience, of someone who travelled the West Coast Main Line a lot pre and post-Virgin, I grudgingly have to admit that although it's more expensive the service and speed of the trains are much better under virgin.

And yeah the peak-time train prices are ludicrous but if you're not too fussy about when you travel you can easily pick up one-way tickets for £15. I've ended up buying a saver return most of the time for £75, and if it's not absolutely necessary to travel pre-9am there's no reason to ever pay more.

As I say I can't speak for any other rail lines but the West Coast Main Line is definitely better.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

yes the 390s are nice, but you should see the class 90s that we get with 1970s carriages that we have to put up with on greater anglia, currently run by abellio on a short term deal. yeah, thanks government, what encouragement is there for abellio to even consider investing in that? virgin can be your exception to the rule. those 390s are in nicer nick than any other train in the country, yet they have awful carriage layouts with many people not having a window view. everywhere else people are putting up with decrepid pacers, knackered sprinters, and some pretty grim EMUs that a way past their sell by date. even the reasonably fancy voyager is a bit of a problem with it's stinky toilets.

yes, people want to travel at rush hour, why not offer them longer, more frequent trains to do so! doesn't happen.

going to court shows a lot of commitment to the cosy franchise deal that virgin have. no wonder they wanted more of that action.

it says a lot that the other stand out franchisee (east coast) is government run.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

Oh good, the return of contrarian Ewan, great.

The TUC had a report last month about the failures of rail privatisation, brief version here:

I think it was fairly telling that Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands all had state rail providers wanting to bid for UK rail franchises.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

bad bad bad.
travelling by train makes me puke. you get robbed blind.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

can open, worms everywhere! should've known better!

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

haha, it was a worthy try but a topic like this is always going to get people talking.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

The Great Royal Mail sell out,.....sorry, sell off.

Hasn't the government used taxpayers money to bail out parts of RM that was in debt by billions and are now selling off the more supposed 'lucrative' slice of that organization's pie?
Correct me if I'm wrong.

Sounds about par for the course, bunch of twats that politicians and capitalists are.

GOLDEN CABINET gig collective
DIRTY APPARATUS record label

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

The Private Eye have been covering Virgins debacle of a train service for a while now. It's not something that is a good example of anything positive!

23 (edited by Stout 11-07-2013 20:40:03)

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

elsubolouso wrote:

The Great Royal Mail sell out,.....sorry, sell off.

Hasn't the government used taxpayers money to bail out parts of RM that was in debt by billions and are now selling off the more supposed 'lucrative' slice of that organization's pie?

The government took on the debt of the shortfall in the pensions fund, originally three billion but recalculated to about 9billion as its way more scary and onerous amount to say youre to taking on.
The understanding was that once the Govmt had taken on the debt and guaranteed the pensions the unions would talk modernisation etc. now it seems there is a new shortfall in the pensions and the workers are fucked but the modernisation etc is nearly complete RM/Govmt got what they want so fuck the posties anyway eh?
The original shortfall was mainly due to RM taking a holiday of 13 years from paying pensions contributions as there was a load of money in the pensions pot and a nasty tax grab was looming. Workers still paid their pension contributions but RM used it to keep post prices low.

The lucrative parts of the business won't be sold separately but when it is sold the new owners will get rid of the stuff that they don't want, start screwing t&cs, knock 6 day deliveries on the head.

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

In terms of being a customer I have an awful lot of time for the Royal Mail currently, to send letters/small parcels I find the rates perfectly reasonable, there's an accountability to the rounds that means I've only ever found workers to be conscientious. If a parcel can't be delivered you can go to the office when convenient or get it re-delivered elsewhere easily enough.

Contrast this with every experience I've had of the couriers utilised by companies like Amazon and when sorting out a Passport...things get left in broad daylight, in the rain, drivers have been completely disingenuous and claimed signatures which weren't given, if you're out they will only organise a redelivery between 9-5 on a weekday. I appreciate this is purely anecdotal but I have an awful lot of time for the RM (declaring bias here my Dad is a postie of >20yrs).

In terms of the more general point about the efficiency of privatisation - I'm relatively on the fence about it. Although, Ewan, your graph about the rail companies is just the worst kind of statistical misrepresentation.

Given the problems with the pension contributions of workers I think there's a distinctly immoral aspect to shifting the company on. If there's a looming pension deficit due to mismanagement whilst within the government's purview then it's their responsibility to ensure that is resolved. Also Royal Mail, I believe, have suffered significantly as a result of the 2006 Postcomm decision to encourage competition because it's half baked and the 'Downstream access' princple means a courier can go and pick up a load of mail from a company, drive over to a Royal Mail office (who are obligated to deliver it) and dump it on them having negotiated middle-man rates.

I appreciate this is an age old/anecdotal argument but isn't the transport system in, say, Berlin a PLC owned by the state? Because that travel network is beyond reproach.

"Give me a prejudice, and I will move the world"

Re: Privatisation of the Post Office

i agree, i'm also on the fence about privatisation. i think a lot of people are anti it automatically where clearly there are successes and failures on both sides. cases such as telecoms, BA and BAA are often sited as successes, where rail is often cited as a huge mess. anyhow, the technical efficiency of privatised companies operating in often highly regulated market is something i know next to nothing about. i just think it's a bit naive saying 'it can't possibly work because something else completely different didn't, in my opinion, work before'.