The Royal Mail have blamed the sharp fall in profits over the last 12 months on a combination of the loss of some major contracts, a drop in overall mail, and, more significantly, a large decrease in the amount of cash being sent in birthday cards that they can steal.
For many years the main source of profit at the Royal Mail has come from the discreet removal of bank notes from birthday cards as well as the sale of any valuable items that had been naively sent through the post. The increasing trend for cards to be sent in a white envelope instead of a brightly coloured one, which might as well be marked ‘I could have cash in me, please steal me’ has led to staff missing the opportunity to pocket some extra money.
‘The system worked’ explains Royal Mail spokesman Martin Riley ‘we had staff in each sorting office whose job it was to identify likely looking packages that could make us a bit of extra profit. Any proceeds from this were split 50/50 between the company and the staff, so it was like a bonus scheme. It helps to think of it as kind of like tipping in a restaurant, but a restaurant where the waiters help themselves to your wallet while you’re not looking.’
Amazon.co.uk have withdrawn their business already, amid complaints that 80% of items were ending up on ebay rather than delivered to customers’ houses, and the present financial difficulties being experienced could lead to these ‘sifters’ being made redundant. This is a situation that the Royal Mail are keen to avoid as it will place added pressure on the remaining staff to take on additional responsibilities for stealing stuff, at least until the process can be automated by the introduction of a machine that can identify items of value in the mail.
Leaders of the union that represents petty crooks, such as baggage handlers and postal workers, are threatening strike action if the proposed redundancies go ahead.
They are however hoping to get away with merely threatening strikes for the next couple of months, and then dragging out the ballot process until late November so that they can announce strikes over the Christmas period, as this is the only time anybody really gives a toss about post arriving promptly.