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Article by Terry Pullinger on the essential role of the postal service in a crisis

Delivering for Those in Need

In the coronavirus crisis, maintaining supply of essential goods will be a key priority.

Postal workers enjoy the trust of communities to do this – that's why their fight to protect the service is so important.

The ongoing dispute between Royal Mail and the CWU is in essence an ideological battle, pitting between privatisation and greed against an amazing public service with social aims.

The CWU’s fight is trying to protect a cherished institution which is still fundamentally tied to its original aims of social inclusion with every citizen being equally connected regardless of status or wealth.

Throughout the most testing times in UK history – from two World Wars to extreme weather or major threats to public health – the postal system and postal workers have always got through.

We find a way, like a Swiss army knife if something does not work we try something else.

In wartime, postal workers were credited with keeping the flow of information and the morale of a nation up, both for those at home and those away fighting. Despite our nation suffering huge bomb damage during the Second World War, postal workers pressed on.

In more recent times, during extreme weather and moments like the country faces now, postal workers have always been on the frontline and have proven to be a vital service.

With increasing concerns regarding isolation and loneliness, stretched emergency services and soaring crime rates in many parts of the country, postal workers are the eyes and the ears of the community.

They are on the streets and in our neighbourhoods every day and the nature of their jobs puts them in constant contact with the public.

It may not be part of their job description, but they are often the first to notice if someone is not well, the first to alert the emergency services if someone needs medical treatment, or if there’s a fire, a gas leak, a burst pipe, or a burglary. 

The value of postal workers to society is a great as ever.

The coronavirus has highlighted just how fragile the support networks within our communities are, with many vulnerable people asking how they are supposed to self-isolate and still access the medicine and food they need.

The CWU has proposed to Royal Mail that we step back from our dispute in public interest and concentrate on our national crisis. 

However, we should not lose sight of the fact that this situation makes the dividing lines in the dispute all the more relevant – the primary objective of the CWU is to protect a great public service, whereas Royal Mail continues to pursue an approach motivated by private profit and shareholder greed.

We stand for the maintenance and modernisation of this cherished and hallowed cloth of the social fabric of our nation, one of the most effective and powerful engines of social inclusion in our history.

The physical presence of postal workers on our streets, roads and country lanes ready to serve every address in the UK six days a week with total equality through a public service with social aims has been a crucial component to British society for generations.

This current national crisis convinces the CWU that it must be protected.

We live in a world where standards and care have been traded for profit, where people are selfish and look after number one. It has gone too far.

Every community and individual matters and it’s times like this that we should all reflect and protect what we hold dear. Part of that must be the great British postal system, the six-day universal service and postal workers.

There is huge potential here for the postal service to once again help our country in its hour of need. Providing our members are given the best safety protection possible, they will be ready to do this.

Here’s our message to the public: support your postal worker, and also the retention of this great public service.

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