Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 12:28 UK

Postal strike divides commentators

Royal Mail worker and van

The postal strike has divided columnists, commentators and bloggers. Here is a selection of views from around the web.

In the Guardian, Seumas Milne says the postal workers have been left with little choice but to strike:

Back in the real world, postal workers might have been thought foolish if they hadn't in fact voted to take industrial action. In recent months, Royal Mail's meat-headed management has accelerated attempts to impose job cuts and office closures, longer shifts and increases in the working week, heavier workloads, longer and faster delivery rounds, more casual and part-time working and effective cuts in pay - while reports of rampant bullying, harassment and sackings on paper-thin pretexts multiply.

A former postal worker and editor of Spiked, Mick Hume supports the strike, saying postal workers deserve better:

Once, such a modest display of industrial militancy might have been seen as a token protest. Nowadays it is condemned as an act of national sabotage and a crime against Christmas.
…When I worked there, the union - in the shape of ex-military shop stewards - ran the sorting office. It appears those days are well and truly gone. The drastic changes in working practices mean that postal workers are doing longer rounds and hours with less chance of being paid that crucial overtime.
…Postal workers deserve better than that. And we should be on their side. The public support exhibited in defence of 'our post offices' should also come out for 'our' posties. You do not need to indulge (as some have done) in nostalgia for the village postman as a symbol of Olde England in order to see that, despite all of the changes, local postmen and women can still play an important part in communities. The post is more than a business model.

Iain Martin in the Wall Street Journal notes the absence of the boss of Royal Mail in the press:

We hear hourly from various trade union bosses and politicians such as Lord Mandelson. But if [Royal Mail boss Adam] Crozier's been giving interviews on the situation, then I've certainly missed them. This is most curious. He's been in the job for six years (a long time), earned a lot of money and promised to modernise a struggling British institution… He's managing to keep himself out of the newspapers. Or, someone else is.
Whichever highly-paid PR is responsible for that particular coup deserves a whopping bonus from Crozier and an award, if they can keep it up.

Kevin Maguire in the Mirror says the solution would be to sack Mr Crozier:

Crozier's bought the sharp suits and learned slick patter as a marketing man selling Pedigree Petfoods, before moving on to Saatchi and Saatchi and then the FA.
But being on the brink of a national walkout tells me he's clueless as the head of a publicly-owned corporation in a political crisis. Playing the ruthless anti-union boss by threatening to employ 30,000 strike-breakers lurches back to a Thatcherite 1980s many of us hoped was history.

Daniel Finkelstein in the Times says that the dispute is "bonkers" and everyone will lose out unless the strong union is broken:

If the Royal Mail dispute were about individual postal workers and their economic interest, it would be easy enough to solve. It could be ended in a conciliatory way with most people better off. Unfortunately things aren't that simple. This is about the power and coherence of a group, and a group's resolve. The sad truth is that the dispute cannot be ended until the group is broken.

Graham Charlton from analyses the knock-on effect of the strike to retailers. He predicts a decline in online sales:

Delivery is absolutely key for online retailers, and customers need to be confident that their orders will arrive in time for Christmas.
If there is any doubt that the presents they are thinking about ordering for their children will not arrive in time for Christmas day, many will simply not risk it and will spend their money offline instead.

Joey Jones at Sky News says the negotiations are only just beginning:

The whole thing won't be resolved until the proper battle over part-privatisation is rejoined in the next parliament, whoever is in government. This is the warm-up.

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