Royal Mail: Pensions burden
For ministers, the Royal Mail is a kind of giant testing ground for their intermittently bold plans to reconstruct the public sector.
Ministers were particularly impressed three or four years ago when Royal Mail reduced its workforce by some tens of thousands - which fired up the determination of the Treasury to reduce headcounts and costs elsewhere in the public sector, though so far without notable success.
So the big news today is that Royal Mail is closing its generous final salary scheme to new members and looking to reconfigure the scheme in a way that reduces its financial burden on the company. Difficult to see how that can be done without reducing the benefits it gives 170,000 working members - or perhaps increasing the costs for them.
As Allan Leighton, Royal Mail's chairman, said to me this morning, this is big stuff. But It's probably unavoidable when the company feels its long term viability is threatened by the £730m annual cost of servicing the fund.
It is conspicuous that Leighton has received backing from Alistair Darling, the trade and industry secretary, for these proposals. So a chill will be sent through the rest of the public sector, where pensions are conspicuously more generous than what's generally available in the private sector.