Friday, 12 December 2008

In support of Posties

There was a piece on the news last night about what was alleged as being new onerous demands on our postmen and postwomen. Their union maintain that the posties are being told to walk at 4 mph on their rounds, not so say Royal Mail - we are asking them to average 2.1 mph. Now both sides can't both be right, or can they? It could be that they have to walk at 4 mph along the street as there will be a lot of stopping to put letters in boxes and get parcels signed for thus bringing the average for the shift for the shift to a much lower figure - 2.1 even. I don't know.

What seems to be happening is that Royal Mail are using some computer software called 'Pegasus' to work out optimal routes for our posties. Not a bad idea it might be thought but here's the thing, Pegasus comes from Canada and I can pretty well guarantee that the way post is delivered over there bears almost no resemblance to how it happens in the UK. For a start a Canadian won't expect mail to be delivered to his front door, no it's a box at the gate at best. And typically their postmen won't be going up hill and down dale and contending with steps and snappy dogs as ours do. So has Pegasus been modified to take account of the huge number of variables that exist in this country. Possibly but it wouldn't surprise in the slightest if it hadn't.

On the BBC News website folk were invited to "Have Your Say" on the subject and didn't they do just that with huge numbers emailing in. I tried to absorb quite a bit of this to add to my own observations on the local scene as it were. A number of those commenting were relatives of posties and many of these pointed out the bullying by managers prevalent in parts of the mail service. Admittedly they in turn are frequently under pressure from those above them but I have to say that I have absolutely no time for bullying in the workplace. Time and time again those at the sharp end and getting least pay are getting flak from the end customer and not being supported by their managers. I accept that there might be the occasional indolent postie that needs to be chased a bit but almost all the 'career' postmen and women do an absolutely brilliant job. Management have to get into their fat heads that there is an upper practical limit to the amount our posties can do (and health and morale are really important as well) and if the 4 mph speed asked for is true then it is totally ridiculous to demand that a person carrying bags of mail in all weathers should adhere to this. Added to that there are packages to be signed for and this all adds to the time. Many stories too about managers who have never graduated through the system and therefore don't really know what it's like to do a round. This wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Thinking about things here I have to say that my postman is cheerful, reliable and pretty well always gets it right. Interestingly and coincidentally today's 'Western Morning News' has a piece by one of their reporters, accompanying a postwoman based on the Honiton sorting office as she drives her rural round.

One final point to round off this piece: I referred earlier to 'career' posties; we are fortunate here to have regulars but I believe in some cities it's difficult to get the permanent staff they need and so they employ a certain number of agency workers and it's possible that deliveries are a little less reliable in such circumstances. Another plus for living in the country!

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