A brief word - in my professional capacity as eBay Top Rated Power Seller, Overlord of Positive Feedback and Grand Imperial Warlock of Those Stupid Coloured Stars You Get After Your EBay ID Which Nobody Really Knows The Significance Of - about the postal strike.
Since the stike was confirmed last Wednesday, my eBay sales have fallen off a cliff; the “marquee” items (i.e. the really rare stuff) are still selling OK, but impulse purchases in the £5 - £10 range have largely dried up; my income is down by about 60%. So who do I blame? Intransigent management, intent on imposing huge cuts and impossible working conditions on a long-suffering workforce? Militant unions striking for unrealistic pay and benefits despite the organisation’s desperate need of modernisation?
No. I blame the f*cking newspapers. The reality is that the strike so far has lasted only 2 days (one day for processing centres, one day for delivery and collection staff), and that most items posted during that period will arrive one, or maybe two, days late (if late at all). However, the impression you get from the papers is that the entire country is grinding to a halt, that the postal service is an unwieldy dinosaur doomed to utter destruction and that small business owners are throwing themselves out of skyscraper windows. People have stopped buying online not because of the nature of the problem itself, but because of the exaggeratedly negative way in which it’s being reported.
Worse still, the dispute is far from intractable; the two sides are reasonably close to an agreement, and the strike last week almost didn’t happen at all. But, on the day of fresh talks, the Grauniad isn’t reporting this fact; instead, it’s stoking up bad feeling by focussing its attention on an out-of-context quote in which Adam Crozier, head of Royal Mail, is supposed to have told his opposite number at the CWU to “shut up”.
Nice work, Fleet Street; your childish hysteria is helping to resolve the problem and get my professional life back on track how, exactly?