Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Post Office Strike: Consumers Strike Back
I understand that workers demand a "living wage" and that many workers in South Africa are exploited. But it seems to me that the trades unions are being shortsighted when it comes to the Post Office. Snail mail is a declining service, and as soon as it becomes unreliable consumers and businesses look for alternatives.
In the case of snail mail, the answer is obvious: use email, or a fax. Most of my monthly invoices arrive by email, and this week I added another one. So I really don't care if the Post Office can't deliver letters any more: I seldom get any. The only stuff I pay for that arrives by post is Noseweek and National Geographic. And Noseweek is looking into the possibility of using a delivery method other than mail. After all, City Press is delivered every Sunday without relying on the Post Office. Why not use them?
I already have a dual subscription, so I can read the news online, or in print, and I usually check out the most interesting articles online before the print edition arrives. So my advice to the postal unions is this: if you want the Post Office to stay in business, don't disrupt the delivery of mail. There are plenty of alternatives, including courier services, for letters and packages to be delivered. Your workers have stolen plenty of packages from Amazon.com and elsewhere, that quite frankly I'll be quite happy to use a more reliable alternative, such as Postnet, if push comes to shove.
The problem is this: trade union leaders and organizers do not lose their jobs when workers get retrenched after a strike. Perhaps if they did, the pre-strike negotiations would be more about workers and less about scoring political points.
Update Sunday 24th March: Today's Sunday Times newspaper claims that the CEO of the Post Office was chosen by the boyfriend of the Minister of Communications: one of those "jobs for pals" posts that works so well in the real world. In the meantime we have not had a letter or magazine delivered for around 8 weeks already.
Update Thursday 4th April: Hooray! First letters delivered in 9 weeks. Only 3 letters mind you, but it's a start. I reckon that The Post Office should be asking Sanral for volunteers from all those empty eToll shops around Gauteng. Without the Postal Service they are never going to be able to get their eToll invoices out.
Update Friday 17th May: Just received 3 National Geographics and 2 Noseweeks (but not the current ones) and a letter from Discovery dated 27th February. So our postal delivery appears to be weekly, with a delivery time of around 2-3 months. Mmm ...