“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for October 14th, 2009

A Letter Explains All.

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A letter in the Times explains why there is a postal dispute in Britain and why the management are to blame for this poor state of affairs:

“Sir, I worked for Royal Mail (report, Oct 9) from 1975 to 1998, rising from postman to line manager. What the management wants to implement now were the practices that were in place then. It was management that changed, for efficiency reasons, to the practices they have today.

Postal staff sorting mail during the day would cover deliveries for sickness or holidays. Agency staff were only used at Christmas; all other shortfalls were covered in-house. Management cut these jobs.

Staff would work in a two or three-week rotation, delivering, sorting and collecting post, which made them flexible and multiskilled. Management split these into three separate departments, and staff had to choose which department to work in. There was no crossover and no flexibility. Part-time working in the early evening for sorting is ideal as the bulk of mail is collected from 5pm onwards.

Regarding a pension fund deficit, in some years Royal Mail made more than £200 million annual profit; all profits went to the Government. During this period the Government took a holiday of more than ten years from paying into the pension, as it said there was too much money in the fund. This contributed greatly to the present deficit.

In my time at Royal Mail it was estimated that it cost £18 to send a single letter from Southampton to Edinburgh. This was subsidised by the millions of letters delivered locally. If full privatisation of Royal Mail goes ahead, like the bus services and post offices, we will see the same problems arising in rural communities. People will have to collect their own mail from a central area simply because it will be too expensive to deliver, as the profitable areas that subsidised these deliveries will be creamed off by private companies.

K. Trumper
Southampton “

Update 1:
I missed this, but Royal Mail bosses got £10 million in bonuses:

“An investigation by The Independent on Sunday has revealed that Mr Crozier is not the only beneficiary of the company’s success in forcing through changes deemed “absolutely essential” by senior managers. Since 2002/3, Royal Mail Group has paid its executive board members – who typically number between four and six at a time – a total of more than £22m in salaries alone. But the executives received £10.7m in performance-related bonuses.

The bonus bill has risen from £616,000, shared between seven executives and the former non-executive chairman Allan Leighton in 2002/3, to £1.03m split by just four individuals last year.

Royal Mail made an operating profit of £321m in the year to 31 March, but it was the first time in 20 years that all four parts of the business had been profitable.

Geraldine Smith, the Labour MP leading the campaign against any privatisation of the service, said: “At a time when they are telling us how perilous the Royal Mail’s position is, they should not be taking millions of pounds out of the company. Anyone can make people redundant or cancel the second delivery.”

(H/T: Rubbish Royal Mail)

Written by modernityblog

14/10/2009 at 21:44

Around The World.

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There were a few stories that caught my attention, particularly what’s going on in Peru.

We are often told that the Amazon is the lungs of the Earth, a precious resource to care for and not to recklessly exploit, yet the actions of Alan Garcia’s government in Lima gives lie to that notion, the Times reports:

“These men are part of a growing resistance movement crystallising deep in the jungles of Peru. For the first time isolated indigenous groups are uniting to fight the Government’s plans to auction off 75 per cent of the Amazon — which accounts for nearly two thirds of the country’s territory — to oil, gas and mining companies.

They oppose 11 decrees issued by President García, under special legislative powers granted to him by the Peruvian Congress, to enact a free trade agreement with the US. These would allow companies to bypass indigenous communities to obtain permits for exploration and extraction of natural resources, logging and the building of hydroelectric dams.

Indigenous leaders say that the laws will affect more than 50 Amazonian nations representing hundreds of thousands of Indians.

One by one the men step forward and deliver angry, defiant messages. “If an oil company tries to come here, we will block its path and block the rivers. We will not let them in and we will take strong action,” Jempe Wasum Kukush, a local leader, said. Another, Tayajin Shuwi Peas, warns: “We are not scared and we will fight to the death over this.”

On the other side of the world, in related news Rwandan government suppresses Greens (thanks to Jim for spotting this), Green Party Watch has more:

“Kigali: They moved hundreds of kilometers – some for the first time to the capital. Others braved the trouble of having to move with babies. Some abandoned their jobs to be in Kigali for the event that did not happen. Up to 900 supposed delegates of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) found themselves at the center of an unexpected controversy, RNA reports.

The newly formed party was on Friday told it could not hold a scheduled delegates’ conference. Interim party officials had booked St. Famille CANA hall – owned by the Kigali catholic diocese. The large number of delegates meant some had to stand outside anxiously waiting for the grand event to start.

These delegates had come all the way to give their nomination signatures to the new party. It is these signatures which party officials hoped would form part of the registration dossier with the Ministry of Local Government.”

Elsewhere in Africa the quest for raw materials goes on as China is about to sign an agreement with the dictatorship in Guinea. Readers will remember the recent massacre by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara’s forces. The Times discusses China’s role in Africa:

“China is preparing to throw the junta in Guinea a lifeline in the form of a multibillion-pound oil and mineral deal, financed largely by soft loans. Such policies have already served China well with rogue and discredited regimes from Angola to Sudan. The move comes as the European Union, spurred on by France, the former colonial power, and the African Union are considering sanctions against Guinea if its young military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, continues to renege on a deal to stand down in favour of free elections.

The massacre occurred after 50,000 demonstrators took to the streets when Captain Camara — who seized power in December after the death of the long-time dictator Lansana Conte — announced that he would stand in the poll. Thousands stayed at home yesterday and riot police patrolled empty streets as the opposition called two days of mourning for the dead.

Beijing, meanwhile, was reported to be close to agreeing a deal, financed by its China International Fund, of about £4.4 billion covering a range of projects. Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, also has huge deposits of uranium, iron ore, diamonds and a host of other minerals. It is also believed to have significant off-shore oil reserves.
There is only one condition: any money provided must be used to pay Chinese companies and buy Chinese goods that flood the continent’s bustling street markets. Stalls now overflow with cheap plastic sandals, underwear, artificial flowers and cut-price motorbikes and tools.

Ordinary Africans are far less enthusiastic than the governing elites. Rights activists accuse the Chinese of cutting corners, exploiting corrupt local officials and ignoring health, safety and environmental concerns.”

I just wonder what will happen, if and when, China’s source of precious materials becomes blocked by locals agitated at their exploitation, will China’s dictatorship be tempted to move some of their troops into the region?

Written by modernityblog

14/10/2009 at 14:23