It is amazing how stupid people can be sometimes. They will happily cause themselves great harm if they believe it will hurt an enemy. Quite a few soldiers have killed themselves to deny their enemy the privilege. Such is the current behaviour in the CWU, killing the Royal Mail (and ultimately themselves) to get their own back on the management, at the expense of the livelihoods of the union members. They are not the first or only union to wreck the prospects of their members - many British Airways employees are far worse off because of the actions of their unions which have forced the company into its current financial state. But seeing the impacts on BA, it is all the more amazing that the CWU have still taken the action they have. It should be blindingly obvious to them that customers can and will use alternatives in the future, so they know they are causing irreparable and possibly terminal harm to their own employment prospects. Many administrative procedures that previously used the post can be done on-line, and once implemented thanks to the strike, will never again use the post. In fact, it will be beneficial to the owners of those procedures.
And here is the silver lining. The stupidity of the CWU will cause earlier adoption of better managerial practices elsewhere, by making postal communication more difficult and expediting the migration to electronic systems. So while it might mean disaster for their members, it will help the rest of the economy to evolve. This is a widespread impact of the recession too. Of course, recession is bad, but it does have a benefit of expediting the demise of companies that don't measure up, replacing them earlier with ones better suited to the future, with leaner management, more efficient practices, less waste, and more agility. Anything that helps improve the economy isn't all bad news.
The Royal Mail was once an important organisation. Now it is much less so. That is a simple fact of life. In my company, they provide no function at all except the delivery of magazines and parcels. All of our communication is done on the networks. On a personal level, I very rarely send cards now, and never letters. So the only impact I will notice from a strike is that I will have less junk mail to bin. I can live with that. In which case, the longer the strike, the better. Today's papers are full of news of the major web retailers switching their delivery companies. Why would they ever want to switch back if the alternatives provide a decent and economic service. If the CWU is relying on customer loyalty, it is dangerously over-estimating their hand. The rest of the world has moved on, and willing to move even further.
If the Royal Mail is to survive at all, it will need to be fiercely competitive in the distribution of magazines and parcels, the only area with any future market. It will need a lean and mean organisational structure, with competitive labour rates and unbroken, high quality service. The action of 20th century unions trying to force the company to retain 20th century terms and conditions, when the market has moved on, will simply see the company shrink even more rapidly as competition rapidly captures the remain bits of the market.
This is not a case of poor staff being exploited by a wicked company. It is a fight for survival in a changing market, and the CWU's actions will lead directly and inevitably to disaster for the people it is meant to represent. They will suffer enormously as a result, but the economy will not, it will actually benefit.