Tens of thousands of postal delivery workers in the CWU union struck today in the latest stage in their battle for decent pay, against cuts and in defence of the postal service.
The strike, like the other actions taken by postal workers in the last few days and over the weeks, was incredibly solid, showing the determination of the workers.
There was deep anger on the picket lines across the country against the attacks coming from Royal Mail managers Allan Leighton and Adam Crozier.
There was also solidarity from other groups of workers and growing discussion of the possibility of united action across different sections of public sector workers against Gordon Brown’s 2 percent pay limit.
Postal workers are gearing up to strike again next week.
Socialist Worker has received reports from across the country of the picket lines today.
Management at Preston delivery office tried to force the drivers – who are working today – to take on some of the sorting work. The drivers refused and walked out. Cheers and clapping from the picket line greeted them.
It was about 7am that all the drivers left and nothing has gone in or out since. This should have an even more major effect on Preston in the next few days.
Andrea Wilson, a CWU union activist, told Socialist Worker, “We aren't at all surprised that this has happened – the drivers always stick together.
“When management told them to do our work they just said ‘stuff it’ and walked out. We’re both striking again next week and we’re prepared. Hopefully management will realise now we’re serious.”
John Whittaker, a CWU rep, “This unofficial action is really significant.
“They now want us to work five years more to cover their shortfall. They ought to remember that they didn’t pay into our pensions for 12 years.”
A striking post worker said, “Management will crap themselves after this, they're in a real predicament. I'm not surprised that the drivers have done it though.
“Whenever things get bad the government always comes for the postal workers. But in 19 years of working as one it has never been this bad. I get really frustrated when I see Leighton saying ‘I don't take a salary’ – who needs a salary when you've got a huge bonus!
“Everything that’s happening is further proof of Americanisation in our society. If America has enough money to be militarily involved in 72 countries since 1991 they've got enough money for the public sector. Britain, unfortunately, is making the same priority – of warfare over welfare.”
Only the manager turned up for work at the Falcon Road West delivery office in Edinburgh this morning. On the picket line, postal workers welcomed the escalation of the strike and the discussion was all about ensuring that there was no speed up of the normal work rate to catch up with the backlog next week.
There was talk of calling a meeting to make sure everyone was on board with this, ensuring no working over their time or through meal breaks.
Workers said, “It’s not about pay. If it was only the pay, I would not be on strike.”
One of the great concerns is the proposed new start times. A worker said that this was “just another onslaught on us from the bosses”.
There was a determination to fight on. As workers said, “This may take a while, but we’ll keep on fighting.”
The Leicester NDO strike was solid again this Saturday with only a few people working. They had come in even earlier to avoid our picket.
On Monday of this week we had a full members meeting on site which resolved to push hard all week for a large turnout this morning so that we could send a clear message to management that we are not backing down from this fight.
This meant that we were able to change the mind of someone who had crossed the picket line twice before now supporting the strike and not working today.
The turnout was fantastic, and we saw even more members picketing for the first time.
The feeling of solidarity on the picket line and in our office is so strong. We heckled management all morning, blow our whistles as people tried to cross our picket line.
We petitioned customers as they came in to pick up packets. The response from the public was fantastic. We filled over six sheets of our petition.
One GMB union member said he worked for the local government and said that he is “desperate to get a yes vote so we can join you” in the fight over pay.
Leicester postal worker
Ayr and Prestwick
Ayr and Prestwick mail offices were closed today with a good presence of pickets.
The workers’ confidence seems to be getting stronger. With every day of the stoppage they are getting angrier at Royal Mail management.
One of the postal workers said, 'They can spend £3,000 on multimedia units for every post office, but can’t give us a bit of new equipment or uniform. If that’s making things more efficient and cost effective then we can look forward to a real mess if we don’t win this dispute.”
Both Brighton and Hove CWU picket lines were 15 to 20 strong over Friday/Saturday, with the mood upbeat as before. Despite a local glitch in the rolling action – Gatwick mail centre failed to strike due to a legal error – there is still a determination to beat Royal Mail. The effects are beginning to be felt in terms of the backlog of post.
Barry Donovan, the assistant branch secretary of South Downs CWU, said, “It’s kicking in now. It’ll probably take three days before first class mail gets through.”
Andy Hitchcock, the Hove delivery office rep, added that local businesses are also showing concern that the strikes could affect them badly.
The question of solidarity from other unions was raised again, both publicity-wise and financially.
Andy said, “We need more trade union cooperation. Any support now would be reciprocated in the future.”
Barry said, “Leighton and Crozier hope to starve us off the picket lines. If other unions put their hands in their pockets to help out the CWU, the bosses will have to think twice about that. We've got to hit Royal Mail hard to make them think they can't afford to go on like this.”
Postal workers on strike in Glasgow were upbeat at early morning pickets today and all agreed that the strike needs to be stepped up so management does not sit it out.
At Clarence Drive depot in Glasgow’s West End, where 70 people usually work, eight workers received honks of support at their early morning picket.
“We should step up the strike, and work to rule and ban overtime when we are working,” said John, one of the pickets.
“We need more action if we want this to work,” said one of the women strikers.
At Lincoln Avenue depot in Knightswood, Glasgow, pickets responded positively to petitions from the rank and file newspaper Post Worker encouraging broader action.
The union representative Alaistair was keen to come and speak at trade union meetings about the action. “We need to intensify the strike,” he said.
Pickets at both depots reported a solid strike with no scabbing. Picket rotas have been arranged for today and for next week.
Warrington, Runcorn, Widnes and Frodsham (Cheshire) delivery offices were all out as were St Helens delivery office and Merseyside.
The strike was really solid in Chingford Mount in north east London. There was a very good picket line. People were determined and ready for more strike action.
The workers spoke about their pride in the service and how cuts had stopped things like same day delivery in the local area and before breakfast deliveries.
They made it clear that they are fighting to stop the service declining further, as well as over pay.
Ten pickets joined the area delivery rep Mark Dolan at the picket line outside NDO. The strike was absolutely solid across the area.
There were also picket lines at Wood Green, Hornsey, Holloway, Highbury and Palmers Green offices.