POSTAL workers on Merseyside have won an inspiring victory after around 1,000 walked out on unofficial strike in support of their mates at the Bootle office. 'The atmosphere is brilliant. Everyone is buoyant. The strikes were a breath of fresh air and really stuck one on the managers,' says a Liverpool postal worker.
Workers at the Bootle delivery office walked out on Friday of last week in a dispute over breaks. The 60 workers at the office were determined to defend decent conditions. Management wanted all the mail to go out in one delivery.
This would have meant some workers going five hours without a break. Right across Royal Mail workers are fed up with pressure and bullying from managers, attacks on conditions and the relentless drive for ever more profit. Merseyside also has a good tradition of solidarity.
All of this meant that other delivery staff were determined that Bootle would not be isolated. On Tuesday almost all of the delivery offices in Liverpool and the Wirral took action. Some struck, others sat in their canteens.
Around 300 gathered in the canteen at the Copperas Hill centre and 1,500 were not working across the region. Management could see they were on a loser and hastily retreated.
They conceded there would not be just one delivery, and that the workers' breaks would be organised so everyone would have reasonable conditions. Following the recent successful strike at Oxford, this is further evidence that action can beat back Royal Mail management's attacks.
Official strikes are now scheduled over a sacking at the Bridgwater office in Somerset. On a very high turnout, Communication Workers Union members voted 96 to five in favour of action after a colleague was dismissed for taking his child to school in a van.
The disciplinary action led to an unofficial walkout for several days. Following the ballot official strikes are planned for 31 August and 1 September, and then on 4 and 5 September.
By A Postal Worker
Post Office counter staff have rejected their bosses' plans for a new grading structure and voted to call for a national ballot for industrial action. They voted against the plans at a special meeting last week of the south west London counter and clerical branch of the CWU postal workers' union. The meeting went ahead despite opposition from the union's national officer.
Management's plans, which start in October, will reduce basic pay by £2 an hour and scrap all additional allowances. Management also plans to reduce overtime rates and start the process that could lead to performance related pay.
Management claims that staff are overpaid. A bonus scheme even rewards the bosses for reducing staff costs. Staff will not be allowed to work Saturdays if the plan goes through. This could mean a pay cut of between £80 and £100 a month.
AROUND 150 postal workers at the Bishop Street sorting office in Coventry stopped work on Saturday because they had been betrayed over promised improvements in conditions.
The lack of progress over hours and five-day working is yet another example of of post office management reneging over the pledges they made when the Way Forward package was forced through. Mick Kavanagh, the divisional rep for the CWU postal workers' union, said, 'Our members are protesting over the failure to introduce a five-day working week and a reduction in hours.
'This was nationally agreed earlier in the year. There was supposed to be a reduction of 1.5 hours for all staff and a five-day week. Our members are up at 4.30am every morning and working six days is a long week. Management had agreed the hours reduction would happen in mid-August. It hasn't happened.'
At a mass meeting on Monday CWU members voted to return to work, but to hold an official ballot over the issue.