Everybody relies on post, whether it is bills, cards or packages, and everyone is annoyed when something goes missing, which has becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Over the past few weeks, a country already suffering from the economic downturn has also been suffering from a lack of post, as workers throughout the Royal Mail have been striking over pay and job cuts. Postal workers are now to vote on a national strike, although the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said they will call it off if the Royal Mail agrees to stop all redundancies.
And it’s not just individuals who are suffering. Businesses have also been affected, as packages go missing and costs begin to rise. However, there is good news for one firm, the DX Group. DX Mail is the only independent mail operator in the UK which doesn’t rely on the Royal Mail for any part of its service. If the disputes continue, it could see a significant boost to its sales.
Consider the following articles and think about the effect this strike may have on businesses and the economy and then have a go at the questions.
Postal workers to vote on strike BBC News (17/9/09)
The DX: Keeping Business Mail moving during strike Hellmail (30/8/09)
Mail Privatisation to ‘go ahead’ BBC News (11/6/09)
Threat of strikes underlines TUC warning over spending cuts Times Online (14/9/09)
Postal strikes drive customers to Royal Mail’s rivals Guardian (18/9/09)
Postal workers strike in Swindon BBC News (16/9/09)
Royal Mail denies mail backlog BBC News (11/9/09)
Postal strike over job cutbacks The Herald (Plymouth) (5/9/09)
Managers and unions fail to sort out Royal Mail modernisation Guardian (17/9/09)
- In what ways is a postal strike likely to cost businesses?
- What other options are there for postal workers apart from strikes? Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.
- How does a trade union affect wages and employment when an industry becomes unionised? What happens if a trade union is facing a monopsonist employer of labour?
- What is this dispute about and what do you think is the best way to resolve it for all concerned?
- Why in pay negotiations is a trade union more effective than each individual asking for higher pay?
One of the biggest consequences of the recession has been a rise in unemployment. As the economy fell deeper into recession, unemployment began to soar and some believe that it could reach 3.5 million and remain high for the next decade.
But while many employees have lost their jobs or had they pay frozen, some of the biggest earners have received substantial pay rises! The bosses of the FTSE 100 companies have seen their average pay increase by 10% and have shared pay rises of more than £1 billion in the past year.
So as the economy plunged into recession and companies lost much of their value, we still saw an increase in the pay gap in the UK. The following articles look at the pay situation of some of the top bosses.
10% pay rise for the top bosses This is Money, Ryan Kisiel (14/9/09)
Guardian Executive Pay Survey 2009: Should pay be capped? Guardian (14/9/09)
What they make: The highest paid Chief Executives in Digital Media Guardian (20/3/09)
Executive pay jumps despite recession: Report Associated Press (14/9/09)
Unemployment could reach 3.5m and remain high for a decade, CIPD warns Telegraph, Martin Beckford (14/9/09
- How are wages determined in the labour market?
- Why do different people receive different wages? What should happen if two people receive different wages for doing the same job?
- What are the different (a) types (b) causes of inequality?
- Would a maximum price work if it was applied to wages?
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different wages. If everyone was paid the same, would everyone be better off?
The UK and global labour markets are changing significantly. In the UK we have faced a level of immigration of around 500 – 600 thousand people (the government does not know the exact figure), while in the global economy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated in its latest World Economic Outlook that the global labour force has quadrupled in the last quarter of a century. So what is the impact on the UK labour market? Many assume that the effect is negative, but as is always the way with these things, you will find plenty of economists who will argue the opposite. The article below from the Times Online looks at these national and global issues.
Workers count cost of a global labour flood Times Online (29/4/07)
Migrants create job market slack Times Online (20/5/07)
||Using diagrams as appropriate assess the impact of recent immigration on the UK labour market.
||Discuss the extent to which changes in the global labour force and UK immigration have affected the level of wages in the UK labour market.
||Discuss the extent to which the global labour force is likely to change in the next decade.
The kibbutzes in Israel have always been renowned as a system where everything is evenly shared. However, with the news that Israel’s oldest Kibbutz has agreed to essentially privatise itself and start paying people according to ability, it seems that the reach of capitalism and the market system is now almost total. What alternative systems are left to organise and allocate resources? With most forms of socialist organisation more or less discredited as an efficient way of allocating resources, it seems that globalised capitalism is all that is left. However, in the article from the Guardian below Timothy Garton Ash argues that capitalism may, by its very nature destroy itself.
Global capitalism now has no serious rivals. But it could destroy itself Guardian (22/2/07)
Israel’s oldest Kibbutz votes for privatisation Guardian (20/2/07)
||Describe the changes that have taken place in the system used to allocate resources in the Degania kibbutz.
||Assess the reasons why the Degania kibbutz has decided to pay members according to ability.
||Discuss the validity of Timothy Garton Ash’s argument that global capitalism is in danger of destroying itself.