In the Southend area of Essex delivery post workers are doing the job properly – and it’s causing chaos.
In all 12 delivery offices workers are no longer starting work early, using their personal cars to speed deliveries, skipping their meal breaks, or taking out their bags without checking their weights.
These basic measures have caused cages of bagged mail to pile up everywhere.
“Managers have gone mad,” a CWU member told Socialist Worker. “They are trying to entice workers into their cars, but we’re having none of it. Sticking to the rules is a fundamental right.
“Getting the job done depends on us going beyond the job description, but we’re not doing that anymore.
“Royal Mail are pouring managers into the office in an effort to intimidate people. In the main Southend delivery office there are an extra 14 managers.
“We now have one manager for every six delivery staff.
“Vehicles are being brought in from Norwich and Colchester, and managers from Harlow, Romford, Colchester and Norwich.
“There are a lot of threats – some nasty, some petty. One lad was getting a cup of tea from a machine and a manager asked if he was on a formal break, and if not, he couldn’t have the tea.
“We walked out into the car park for a while last week to discuss the harassment.
“The only reason they can put so many managers on us and move in the vehicles is because not every office is doing the job properly. I’d urge everyone to get on board.”
Bob Gibson, the CWU union’s assistant secretary, told Socialist Worker, “For the record it is not unlawful to start your job on time. It is not unlawful to take your full meal relief. It is not unlawful to stop using your own car for deliveries.
“Members are also weighing their bags before going out on delivery.
“The CWU and Royal Mail reached a binding agreement at the time of the introduction of the single daily delivery that the weight of the first bag should be no more than 16kg.”
Slippage over new start times
The 13 August deadline for introducing new start times in delivery offices shows some signs of slipping. Some offices in Kent and London have been told the changes will now be implemented in September.
The reasons are threefold. Firstly, managers are worried about triggering a massive unofficial strike.
Secondly, many managers seem ill-prepared for such major change.
And, thirdly, the rationale for the change is falling apart. The basis of later start times was that new European laws mean trucks cannot travel at over 56mph.
Royal Mail said this would cause problems with moving post from mail centres to delivery offices.
But in many cities the trucks presently go at an average of less than 35mph, never mind 56mph.
Under challenge, Royal Mail has been thrown into some confusion.
However, branches should remain alert to the possibility of the 13 August imposition, and be ready to take a very robust response.