Reader’s letter: essential services should be run for people, not simply for profit

Reader’s letter: essential services should be run for people, not simply for profit

As Saturday’s post arrived I met the postman at the door. He handed me my letters. A very important hospital referral I’d been waiting for for one of my children, a small package of something I’d ordered off of eBay, a wedding anniversary card and a couple of other letters. All of those things were really important to me. We spoke briefly about the strike and he looked down sadly and said that they’re were more to come, that it wasn’t easy to lose pay, especially at the moment, but they felt there was no other option. He said for him is was not just about pay but about the service going altogether. 

Sifting through some of the details online I see his point. While operating profits for the year to March was £416m, up from £344m previously, Royal Mail appeared to be pleading poverty and suggesting modernisation, focusing more on parcel delivery, are the only way to survive. 

Royal Mail’s chief executive Simon Thompson told the BBC that “The businesses needed to pivot from a focus on delivering letters into a business focused on the parcels market”. 

It really brings us back to the point of what are these services for. Are things like electricity, gas and water a privilege? Something like Netflix that you can choose to have or not to have? Or are they essential services, things that we need to survive? I think they are essential and that essential services should be run for the people and not simply for profit, to give the shareholders a better return.  

As one of the oldest organisations in the world Royal Mail can trace its origins back over 500 to 1516  when Henry Vlll established a “Master of the Posts”, a position that was renamed “Postmaster General” in 1710. The Royal Mail service was first made available to the public by Charles I in 1635, with postage being paid by the recipient. In 1853 the first Post Office pillar box was erected in Britain. It seems to me that this service evolved out of public need. Do we really want this to be reduced to a private parcel service? How can the NHS afford to get letters specially couriered out to patients?

Reading some of the pay scales reported in the news doesn’t seem to add up to what’s being advertised in vacancies either. A search of five different locations across the south and up to the Midlands on the Royal Mail vacancy page all came up with the same rate of £8.44-£10.85 per hour for a Postperson with driving role. (Just for comparison McDonald is currently offering £9.75- £11.75, £10.50-£11.40 in ALDI for a store assistant and that’s without the extra skills of driving). So to me the Communications Workers Union request seem more than fair and with the profits looking very healthy, affordable. 

I fully support my postman, and the all the other postal workers. I hope that with public support this iconic institution can survive, ideally focusing on proving a key public service, and not just to line the pockets of shareholders. 


 Charlotte Ndupuechi 

  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: