December 29, 2018

British postage stamp depicts the wrong war

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 12:15 pm

The Royal Mail of Britain has presented a collection of stamps online that are due to be issued next year, marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, depicting the Normandy landings of the Allied troops. Problem is, the stamps actually show Americans troops in what is now modern-day Indonesia (Dutch New Guinea), 13,679 kilometres away from Normandy.

People on social media were quick to point out that the image appears on the American National WWII Museum website and is attributed to the US Coast Guard, showing troops carrying stretchers from a landing craft at Sarmi, Dutch New Guinea on 17 May 1944. As well, the D-Day landings took place on 6 June that year, when British, US and Canadian forces landed on the beaches of northern France.

Not only was the wrong image called ’embarrassing’ online, but it’s probably one of the last times that anyone old enough to have been involved in the war will see these stamps, making it extra embarrassing, according to Paul Woodadge, 49, a D-Day historian. As well, a Twitter account for World War Two tours of Jersey tweeted the Royal Mail to point out that the featured ship, LCI-30, did not participate in the Normandy landings.

In the meantime, Royal Mail has apologised and will correct their error. Here’s a case where if social media or the Internet wasn’t around, the mistake would have been even greater, as people would only have noticed the mistake after the stamps were printed.

(Link and photo:

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December 4, 2015

PostNL wants to play neighbourhood watch

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 12:07 pm


Postal workers in the Netherlands don’t have it easy. Over the years, they’ve been sacked in the thousands and have seen their wages dwindle as they went from proper employees to ‘forced freelancers’, giving PostNL reasons to pay them less than minimum wage, but still dictating their terms. Postal workers are students, pensioners and moms who work part-time on bikes delivering mail and are the opposite of the unionized postmen of yesteryear.

If making sure they were at the bottom rung of the employment ladder wasn’t enough, their monopolistic employer client PostNL announced that postal workers could also act as neighbourhood cops and report irregularities to the city like bad behaviour, dog poop and trash out on the wrong day. PostNL would probably ask the city for money to do the city’s job and the postal workers would probably have more to do without it being reflected in their earnings. The city of Schiedam is apparently giving this a go until half December to see if it really makes a difference.

Postal workers are to send pics of the offending people, dog poop or bins to the city using their mobile phone with a ‘special app’. What if they refused to do it or just claim they never see anything wrong and get a bit more money for doing their work? They are freelancers after all, but freelancers with no freedom to negotiate terms. Citizens are already able to report irregularities in their neighbourhood, so why get postal workers to do what citizens already do gladly for free? Because PostNL wants to make even more money off the city and can do so while looking like they care about dog poop. I also don’t picture too many people intervening in case of violence: they’ll more likely be a target than anything else and it’s not their ‘job’.

Blogger Luuk Koleman asks why not get the neighbourhood cops to deliver the mail while they do their rounds? That’s because being a neighbourhood cop is an actual job with a salary and a collective labour agreement.

(Links:, koelman)

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November 16, 2015

Postal worker hoards three year’s worth of mail

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:47 pm

The police have found 60 mail bags containing about 13,000 undelivered letters at a Dutch postal worker’s home in Eelde, Drenthe. A local resident filed a formal accusation against PostNL after not having receiving important letters and the police who investigated discovered the mountain of mail at the postal worker’s home.

The worker claimed to be overwhelmed and let her work pile up quite literally from 2012 to August 2015. In 2013 a quick Google search tells us that in Tilburg a postal worker hoarded mail in his shed for three years as well.

Some 20,000 people (lots of women, students and seniors) work mainly part-time delivering mail in the Netherlands, as compared to the image of the full-time possibly unionised mail man. Another quick search using ‘Nederland’ (‘The Netherlands’) and ‘postbode’ (‘mail delivery person’) will regale you with postal workers hoarding mail up and down the land.

Hoarding was not exciting enough for one woman who decided to kick it up a notch and burnt everything to a crisp after just two weeks on the job.


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October 26, 2014

Woman trolls offline, bad mistake!

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 3:49 pm

church-koewacht-rijksdienst-cultureel-erfgoedFor the past three years citizens of Koewacht, a village straddling the Dutch-Belgian border, have been receiving anonymous hateful letters, but two weeks ago the perpetrator was caught.

Cristel was known to be a respectable woman, living a model life with her husband and dog in a detached house. However, behind those immaculate walls, AD says, the 51-year-old was busy writing letters to her neighbours signed with “a mother of three children” and “the group” in which she told the recipients that they were ugly, had ugly faces and big posteriors, and that she hoped their children wouldn’t grow up to be as ugly.

Don’t trash talk my children, a 32-year-old victim must have thought, and she contacted the neighbourhood cop who as it happens had also received hate mail from the same author. The police discovered about 15 people had received hurtful and sometimes threatening letters. Eventually the author was caught on 15 October and confessed immediately.

Last week during a meeting in the village’s only restaurant, ‘T Hoekske, the letter writer apologised to the victims. Her husband told people that his wife is undergoing treatment, although it’s not clear from the newspapers if it’s for her hateful tendencies.

Since none of the victims filed charges, the police won’t prosecute, much to the chagrin of the online peanut gallery who immediately branded her as a lunatic and a terrorist and clamoured for her arrest. This in turn led columnist Luuk Koelman to conclude that the woman’s biggest crime wasn’t writing hate mail, but doing it through the traditional post.

“On Internet forums it is custom to belittle everybody who disagrees with you. In real life the police may hunt you down when you tell a neighbour you think she is ugly. Online you can safely express your desire to see her dead or wracked with cancer. Nobody bats and eyelid at that.”

(Photo by Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, some rights reserved)

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July 29, 2013

Dutch postal worker burned mail

Filed under: General,Weird by Branko Collin @ 11:39 am

A 26-year-old woman from Swalmen, Limburg has been burning the mail she was supposed to deliver in her short-lived career as a postal worker.

Apparently she said she did not feel like delivering all that mail, though Spitsnieuws doesn’t mention who she told this to.

The woman had been a postal worker for two weeks. fired her and reported her to the police. The company also sent the victims a letter informing telling them what happened.

Former state monopolist has been replacing well-trained, well-paid postal workers with hard to employ people with little or no experience who are willing to work — or not work, as the case may be — for little money.

See also: Dutch postal strike ends after reaching an agreement

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June 29, 2013

Dutch postal strike ends after reaching an agreement

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 3:10 pm

I write this while waiting for a package to be delivered by PostNL which could take a while because the strike at the package delivery division of the former Dutch state monopolist ended yesterday and the delivery people still have a backlog to contend with.

Since its privatisation PostNL seems to have dealt with a constant flow of bad press by changing its name every five years. The company started out as Koninklijke PTT (‘koninklijke’ means ‘royal’). In 1996 it became TPG Post and in 1998 the telephone and mail divisions split into two companies, the former getting the name KPN, the latter becoming TNT, Wikipedia says. TNT later became PostNL. (There are actually solid reasons for all the name changes, but those solid reasons only highlight the company being adrift.)

Nobody seems to know why the former state rail monopolist Nederlandse Spoorwegen (which is still a monopolist, just no longer legally so) messes up all the time, but at least with PostNL there seems to be a couple of reasons. The rise of the Internet appears to have killed off much of the need for mail and the liberalization of the postal market makes it so that when in the past a house was passed by one postal worker a day, now it’s several. PostNL responded to the rising cost of labour by hiring cheaper workers. They gave it a nice spin by labelling the process “[offering] jobs for people distant from the labour market“.

In 2012 PostNL decided to pay their workers for overtime; before that workers were being paid for a mythical number of hours that they should be working according to some bean counter rather than the number of hours they actually worked. In the same year reported that the “Dutch jewellers and goldsmiths’ federation has advised its members to stop using PostNL to deliver packages because so many disappear en route to their destination”.

This week’s strike is fairly unique. PostNL is responsible for delivering about 70% of the packages, but hands those packages over to smaller one-person delivery companies. The people who strike are not employed and therefore not unionised, which means that they strike on their own dime. The largest Dutch union, FNV, decided to help out with the negotiations nevertheless, Omroep West writes. The union is also labelling the workers as ‘schijnzelfstandigen’, self-employed people that in reality work for just one customer without receiving the many benefits and protections employees have under Dutch law. RTL Nieuws reports that online stores have suffered millions in damages because of the strike.

The agreement between PostNL and its freelancers states a new rate for delivery of packages and the setting up of a grievances committee that the freelancers can use to complain about working conditions, reports.

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December 26, 2011

Postcodes and road maps liberated in the Netherlands

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 5:27 pm

It took a couple of lawsuits to put their prospective gatekeepers into place, but both the Dutch postal code data and the Dutch road map data have been set free.

Postcodes used to be determined by the Dutch PTT, and when the company privatized they somehow started claiming ownership. When the government started handing out postcodes for free through its kadaster (land registration office), the new company now called sued them, and lost. The judge has determined that starting February 2012, everybody may use the postcode database for free, Gelderlander writes.

Similarly map makers Falkplan lost a lawsuit against the government where the latter published map data via freedom of information requests, Arnoud Engelfriet writes. Falkplan’s angle seems to have been to disallow competition, plain and simple.

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December 13, 2008

Postman fired over warning customers about fraudulent bills

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:31 pm

When a postman from Rotterdam warned his customers about fake Chamber of Commerce bills following a recent spate of them, he got fired by his employer Sandd, according to Dutchnews. Having read about the fraudulent bills in the paper, he recognized them on his daily route:

“I told my delivery manager, but the reply I got was that we only deliver the mail, and that we cannot and may not check the contents,” postman Rick Timmer (51) told Parool (Dutch). Timmer then went on to warn the companies along his route of his own initiative, sometimes even putting warning stickers on letters to people he could not reach in person.

Sandd thinks Timmer has violated the secrecy of correspondence, a legal right that’s enshrined in the constitution and that holds that letters may not be read while being delivered. In this light the support that Timmer got is a bit shocking: Sandd competitor TNT even offered him a new job, according to Telegraaf. Does this mean that TNT does read our letters? Because that is in my opinion the message they are now sending. Telegraaf mentions that Timmer did not open the letters.

Photo by Hans Vink, some rights reserved.

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