Socialist Worker

Postal workers set to take on Royal Mail's bosses

Socialist Worker supporters in the Royal Mail give you a guide to the battle in the post

Issue No. 2055

Who has voted for a strike?

Over 130,000 postal workers in all sectors. This includes not just the delivery and sorting workers, but also those who work behind the counters in your local and high street post offices.

The vote was huge – 77 percent in Royal Mail, and a historic high of 73 percent in the counters section. The turnout was more than two thirds.

This is a thumping success for the union and a total rejection of management's propaganda.

What are the issues?

Postal workers are defending their conditions and standing up for public services not profit. There are three main strands to the dispute:

  • Pay: Royal Mail workers have been offered just 2.5 percent. That's almost 2 percent below the rate of inflation – so the offer is actually a pay cut.

    A typical postal worker is on £323 a week basic, and to keep up with inflation they'd have to get a rise of £14.53 a week. Instead they are being offered only £8.07. Counters workers are also having their pay cut.

  • Conditions: The bosses' business plan intends to ram through measures to get more work out of fewer people.

    These include 40,000 job losses across the post and the widespread introduction of part-time workers.

  • Closures: The management and the government want to close 2,500 post offices and hand up to 85 offices to WH Smith.They also want to close some mail centres.

Won't there be a new offer after the strike vote?

Royal Mail bosses have gone in hard, backed by the government. The stakes are therefore very high.

An internal management document last week said, 'The holdings board met yesterday and spent several hours discussing challenges facing the business. They were very clear and very firm. The offer is the offer and we are not giving in to strike threats.'

Can postal workers win?

Yes. They are a strong group of workers. Over 99 percent of mail is still delivered by Royal Mail. Competitors only do sorting and collection.

But, more importantly than that, postal workers can create a political crisis by heading up a wider revolt and becoming a focus for the feelings of millions of workers over pay, falling living standards and overpriced housing.

Postal workers will be immensely strengthened if other workers fight alongside them.

The mood for action is electric in the offices. Everyone is fed up with management bullying and harassment. To be honest the problem we face as reps is to keep the members in until the action is called.

In 1996 there was a national strike after a ballot that was 68 percent for action. There were then eight days of a national strike which were very strongly supported and a deal was achieved. This time it's nearly 10 percent more for a strike. Join us in the battle!

Ballot results

sectionyes% yesno% no
Royal Mail66,06477.519,11922.5
Post Office Limited2,70073.099327.0
Cash in Transit54566.028334.0

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