Monday, 19 October 2009

Mind your language!

Stupid. Unjustified. Unreasonable. Wrong.

With language like this characterising the current impasse between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) the suggestion that the conciliation service ACAS should be invited to mediate between the aggrieved parties sounds long overdue.

Unless there is a sudden change of heart by either of the parties, on Thursday, 22 October, mail centre staff and drivers will strike (“Unjustified!” says Royal Mail) The next day it will be delivery and collection staff (“Unreasonable!” Says Royal Mail)

In response to the threat of strike action Royal Mail is intending to double the 15,000 temporary staff it usually recruits before Christmas (“Stupid!” Says the CWU) These extra workers will deal with the backlog caused by the strikes as well as helping with the Christmas rush.

Meanwhile, sitting like vultures on the sidelines, TNT (the UK's largest private mail firm) is lobbying the government to allow it to deploy its postal workers on the streets if the stoppage goes ahead.

  • Does the dispute between Royal Mail and the Trade Unions epitomise a relationship that has broken beyond repair?
  • Previous disputes which have similarly featured such antagonistic language have ultimately been settled. Is such language possibly merely rhetoric?
  • The management of many organisations would claim to work in a spirit of partnership and collaboration with Trade Unions. Can you see such a relationship ever existing within Royal Mail?
  • Is it ever right that a Trade Union can in effect hold members of the public to ransom in furtherance of its cause?

1 comment:

  1. One of the fundamentals of a good relationship is respect. In any partnership, when the rhetoric used services to undermine the other, then respect is eroded away. Can such relationships be fixed? Well I guess it depends on the willingness of the respective sides to work at it. If it’s a relationship that you are committed to long term, then I guess you can overcome most things.

    The relationship between the Royal Mail and the CWU is being played out in the public domain so I do wonder whether this influences the words that are used. Surely a sound bite on Radio 4 that uses inflammatory language is what your membership/your board want to hear. You’re standing your ground, giving as good as you get.

    As far as holding the public to ransom I think this particular situation is a tricky one for the unions. When it comes to mail, the public do have some choices – use another provider, use another medium – so this may all fall flat on its face. It’s a different ball game when you are talking about teachers, healthcare professionals etc. Is it ever right – I guess it depends on the cause!