Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Playing the ‘Last Post’

Published Tuesday 20 October, 2009

Tens of millions of people in this country, from the small business woman to the pensioner, from the Dad working away from home to keep his job to the unemployed single mum doing everything possible to get back into the world of work, are looking at the proposed actions of the Royal Mail workers with frustrated disgust.

Why should just one group of this beleaguered economy think they are above and apart from everyone else? Why should our fragile recovery and efforts of so many in different parts of our society be imperilled by people who refuse to modernise (whatever they say; as always watch what they do not say) refuse to adapt the practices which deliver success in the sector and stem the losses for all of us, the providers of the cash and the wages to the selfsame Royal Mail workers?

Strikes in the public sector only work when the general public sympathise with the strikers' objectives. There will be no sympathy for the Royal Mail. Every hospital, every school, every prison, and all of the private sector every day all have taken on change, all have seen working practices blown away by modernity, all have seen job losses and the introduction of flexible working methods. And now, all of these people, tens of millions of them, are going to experience huge inconvenience, acute financial loss and (in the long term the worst of the lot) even greater losses for themselves as taxpayers, the owners and cash providers of and for the Royal Mail, and this time the consumer has choices; greater use of IT, different business post service providers, community sorting and collection.

25 years ago, Arthur Scargill chose precisely the wrong moment to take on the people of the UK in a fight to the finish. I thought the lesson had been learned. I never thought that turkeys would ever again vote for an early Christmas but I was wrong and they just have.