Monday, October 19, 2009

Insert 'Postal' Pun Here

I get a lot of post, more than I ever have. Bills from the privatised gas & electric companies, bank statements, stuff from Amazon, the review copies, cheques and such that come with working freelance, sternly worded letters from the Students Loan Company, the occasional communication from the people who are supposed to be getting my bank charges back, statements from the fantastically inefficient Virgin Media, etc etc. Much of that list is made up of things that simply wouldn't have existed ten years ago, and yet the claim is made again and again that the internet makes post less likely, as if Amazon, Lovefilm and such didn't exist, and we were writing epistles to each other every day until email came along. This comes complete with a familiar New Labour narrative of intransigent dinosaur unions (with the unspoken concomitant of a management who are presumably dynamic, efficient, not at all lumbering, bullying and by now rather dated in their adherence to an undead neoliberal ideology). The postal strike that will be occuring this week in the UK is clearly going to be enormously nasty. We've already had false claims that Amazon are cancelling their contract, and the news that the government have planned in advance to hire 30,000 temps/scabs - the latter a reminder of what exactly the point of 'flexible working' always was.

The Postal Workers' union have been so far predictably lame at putting across their counter-argument. We should see leaflets being distributed (er, this is the postal service after all), decent statements to the press, visible picket lines, but so far there's been very little of any, in the familiar scenario where one side has been preparing and planning for a confrontation and the other has responded in an ad hoc, unplanned and chaotic manner. What there has been is this piece by the pseudonymous postie 'Roy Mayall' in the LRB, which is truly essential reading. It turns out that 'Mayall' has a blog, and has been writing for a variety of places in a similar vein, and it's both impressive and depressing that the best case for the strike so far has been made by one individual in a literary mag, the broadsheets and online. This implies that either a) he's very well connected, or that b) there is a place for the CWU to make their case, if it's well written and devoid of cliche, if they want to get the public on their side and counter what is likely to be an absolute avalanche of bullshit.