Matt's Crow Country: Royal Mail right to try and plan for strike

PUBLISHED: 10:10 20 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 11 May 2010

I HAVE great sympathy with anyone whose job is under threat. But sadly modernisation is a fact of life, and when new technology is brought in, jobs are inevitably lost. So I can understand why postal workers are threatening strike action over Royal Mail s

I HAVE great sympathy with anyone whose job is under threat.

But sadly modernisation is a fact of life, and when new technology is brought in, jobs are inevitably lost.

So I can understand why postal workers are threatening strike action over Royal Mail's plans to bring in sequencing machines, which sort mail into the correct order. The Communications Workers Union (CWU), which is behind the planned strikes, fear this could see thousands of jobs go.

But I think it's a bit rich of the CWU to have a go at Royal Mail for deciding to employ temporary staff to cover rounds if the strikes go ahead.

"I think it's something that's not going to help resolve the dispute - it's going to inflame things," said the CWU general secretary Billy Hayes.

That may be true, but what are Royal Mail supposed to do? Sit and twiddle their thumbs for two days until the workers decide to return to work?

I would defend anyone's right to strike, but on the other hand, the affected company must have the right to put in place contingency plans.

I've been writing this column for a whole year now, and have to admit that on the odd occasion I have got things wrong.

Of course it hasn't happened very often, but every now and again my opinion has turned out to be slightly, er, erroneous.

One such occasion was my denouncement of Twitter as a "bizarre and pointless concept".

Over the last few months, I've become something of a convert to the popular networking site - indeed, you can tweet The Crow via http://twitter.com/roystoncrow.

And in the last seven days we have seen an excellent example of the good it can do. Because the fuss created by users of Twitter was a big factor in the lifting of a potentially ground breaking gagging order on The Guardian. If the order, which banned the paper from reporting a question due to be asked in parliament, had stood, it would have had serious repercussions with regards to freedom of the press. After all, the freedom to cover parliamentary proceedings is something held dear by the British press, and without it important matters discussed by our elected representatives could go unreported.

So I will hold my hands up and say I was wrong about Twitter, it seems it can truly be a force for good.

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