So Royal Mail workers are on strike and it is likely to cause all sorts of problems. Now I don’t know if they should be striking or not or even if they are justified in striking. I must admit, though, that at some level I am quite pleased to see a group of people illustrating how important their industry is to the UK economy, although I am concerned about the damage it may do to Royal Mail itself. What I do find ironic is that yesterday the vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs suggested that if we don’t accept bankers’ enormous salaries these bankers will simply leave and take their profitable businesses overseas, while today we hear that Royal Mail workers shouldn’t strike because if they do other companies will take over Royal Mail’s business.
To a certain extent this sounds contradictory. I appreciate that there are probably fewer people capable of working in investment banks than there are capable of delivering mail, but presumably in an industry sense, the same should apply to both. If banks want to relocate, why can’t other banks simply take over what they’ve left behind. Why don’t we apply exactly the same logic to the banking sector as seems to being applied to Royal Mail. If they won’t accept a more reasonable salary scheme, then let them leave and allow other banks to take over their business. I do realise that this is probably simplistic, but it may illustrate a fundamental problem. Banks currently seem to operate in an environment in which they are given a level of protection not offered to other industries.