Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 17:55 UK

Public braced for postal strike

Overflowing post box

The union representing Royal Mail workers has said national postal strikes could begin on Thursday 22 October.

A number of localised walkouts have already been taking place across the country for several months.

Some of those braced for further disruption tell their stories.

'MY BUSINESS DEPENDS ON ROYAL MAIL'

Susan Reeves, 54, has run her internet retail business Cosmetics4Less from Burray on the Orkney Islands since 2006.

We are in a very remote and rural area where the economy is fragile at the best of times.

Companies like Amazon may be able to find alternative carriers for their mail but we have no other options available.

I'm completely dependent on Royal Mail.

Susan Reeves
It's hard enough doing business as it is right now
Susan Reeves

So far we haven't been too badly affected by the wildcat strikes, although we have had some deliveries delayed to the London area.

But if the official strike goes ahead, our customers aren't going to get their parcels on time - they'll miss out on birthdays and so on. And as a result, they're going to lose confidence in our service.

I have no complaints about Royal Mail up here. But I don't understand how the union can say they are fighting for jobs when people are going to lose their jobs as a result of this.

It's hard enough doing business as it is right now and jobs are few and far between around here.

I just hope they listen to small business people around the country who are going to be badly hit, and call the strike off.


'I HAD MY DRIVING LICENCE REVOKED'

Mercia McMahon, 43, from Tottenham, north London, has been involved in a dispute with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency after important documents were held in the post by industrial action.

I was told my driving licence had been revoked for failing to return forms in time to DVLA that they sent to me on 17 August.

But it seems to me that the DVLA are completely ignoring the problems that Londoners are facing.

Mercia McMahon
After this experience, I won't be sending any Christmas presents through the post
Mercia McMahon

I actually received their letter on 22 September and the forms were returned via the Wimbledon DVLA branch on 30 September.

They told me that the forms had to reach their Swansea office by 8 October. But they don't seem to be taking account of the fact that there are delays with post going out of London as well as coming into it.

Now they've told me I have another three weeks, but I've no idea how long the documents will take to reach them.

There are a lot of people who have been badly inconvenienced in this way. Everyone has bills to pay and soon it's going to be Christmas.

After this experience, I won't be sending any Christmas presents through the post. I'll deliver them by hand.


'WE HAVEN'T HAD A DELIVERY THIS WEEK'

Nick Woods, 48, is office manager for insurance brokers MB Mulcahy Associates in Wimbledon, south-west London.

The wildcat strike has been absolutely dreadful for us so far.

We haven't had a regular postal service since the August bank holiday and I don't know how much longer it can go on like this.

So far this week we haven't had a delivery. At one point last month we had something like £40-50,000 worth of cheques in the post to us.

We still have to pay the insurance companies on time, so my staff have been ringing round our customers asking them to make a bank transfer.

I'm sure 99.9% of our customers are trustworthy as they've been loyal clients to us for many years. But there's always 0.1% saying: "Oh, the cheque's in the post."

We also have to call the insurance companies, asking them to either fax or email us their documents rather than post them.

As far as I can see, the national strike will just mean more of the same.

Unless the unions and Royal Mail can sort this mess out, a lot of small businesses will simply not survive.



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