Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-163)|
TUESDAY 16 APRIL 2002
160. Do you have unions?
(Mr Carvell) We have unionised members. We do not
recognise a single union but there are unionised members in the
workforce and across the UK. We have never had a representation
from a single union. That is up to the employees to come forward
161. That may be the reason why you have never
had a strike.
(Mr Carvell) We got something right in the way we
managed the people and the longevity of the people who stay with
us. They have bonuses which they work towards at Christmas for
low absenteeism and productivity. The whole thing is geared to
people staying with us, earning a good wage packet for a job well
done and getting paid for what they do rather than just getting
162. What is longevity? My understanding is
that within your business there is a high turnover of owner drivers
and drivers, so much so that you really have a recruitment problem
in, shall we say, the Oxford area where there is a lot of competition.
Not just yourself but most of your competition is struggling in
the same way.
(Mr Carvell) I guess we can go back a long way to
the days when there used to be apprenticeship schemes when people
used to come up through the ranks, but that does not happen much
these days. Regionally, there are problems recruiting class one
or LGV1 drivers for driving articulated vehicles. There is a shortage
and we have to compete in the market the same as everyone else.
We have to pay more if we want the best. That is an issue and
we have to cope with that on a nightly basis. We do not have a
problem with collection and delivery drivers, the guys in the
white vans. There is quite a waiting list of people who want to
come on board and earn a very good living driving. The other area
where we do get a turnover of staff would be the same in our industry
generally and that is night sortation workers, working pretty
awful hours. That is always a concern but thankfully where we
are, in the centre of Birmingham, where we have the majority of
staff, we seem to have quite a waiting list of people to come
163. What do you mean by "the last mile"
because I think people will believe you mean one mile? It could
be the last 50 miles, I presume?
(Mr Carvell) It is generic. There are 1,400 local
delivery offices in Frinton on Sea, Sutton Coldfield and places
like that. There are about 70 mail centres. Some of the mail centres
are delivery offices as well but let us say we have 1,400. We
have discussed and negotiated with Royal Mail to have access either
into the local delivery offices, of which there are 1,400in
other words, we could choose to go in every day to every delivery
office and the postman in that local delivery office on his bicycle
or in his van would go out and do the deliveries in his postal
code. That could be one mile, 20 miles or 30 milesor we
could go into the mail centre and the mail centre will feed the
local delivery offices into his region and then the postman will
go out and do his final delivery. That is the affectionate term,
"the last mile", but it could be the last 25 miles and
it could be done in a van.
(Mr Cockburn) This industry's health depends only
on one thing which is what the customer thinks. We think that
there is scope here for making the industry more attractive to
customers who have more choice and are asking for more choice.
When you talk about the speed of competition, the mere fact that
we have discussed this and the Postcomm proposals have let the
genie out of the bottle. Customers have high expectations that
there is going to be change and choice and that is going to come
more quickly. There is enough cream in this pot for everybody.
I do not think we should be putting obstructions in the way of
competition. If we welcome it and respond to it, as long as the
price is on as fair a basis from Consignia as it is from its competitors,
that is the best basis for satisfied customers, for maintaining
jobs and creating earnings in an industry which still has huge
potential for growth.
Chairman: On that note, cream without cherries
but thank you very much, gentlemen. If there is anything else
we want to get back to you about, we will as soon as we can.