Royal Mail bosses who slashed overtime payments to postal delivery workers, saying that the extra work could be done in far fewer hours than claimed by the CWU union, are now having to do the overtime themselves.
Managers told the union that extra payments for covering the deliveries of absent colleagues – known as “belateds” – would be cut from the rate for seven or eight hours per delivery round, to just six. This would mean a substantial loss of earnings for delivery workers.
The failure to negotiate the change with the union has resulted in a whopping 88 percent vote for strike action in delivery offices in north and east London.
CWU area delivery rep Mark Dolan told Socialist Worker, “The head of deliveries in north London told the union, ‘It’s my way, or the highway.’
“But now he’s found himself out on the highway trying to do our job. The sight of our senior managers, some of whom are on £50,000 a year, still out wandering the streets at 5pm and taking ages to find addresses while attempting to do a delivery has to be seen to be believed.
“But the real scandal is that some junior managers are doing the belateds, and are claiming the full eight hours overtime at £15 an hour! That is more than £6 an hour over what we were getting before the change.”
“So much for changing working practices to make the business more cost efficient.”
Since the dispute over overtime began, management have used casual workers to supplement their own labour in an attempt to get the rounds covered, but in many cases this has not worked, and mail has not been delivered on time.
In some areas mail is being severely delayed and there are even fears that some mail has been dumped, rather than delivered.
In an effort to explain their problems, Royal Mail managers wrongly told Postcomm, the post office regulator, that the delay to the mail has been caused by illegal “secondary action” by the union – rather than acknowledge that their difficulties lie closer to home.
The union is set to meet management on Wednesday of this week. If no agreement is reached, it is likely that a series of 24-hour strikes will be called involving all delivery offices in north and east London.
Postal workers at the Leicester north delivery office were celebrating the reinstatement of their rep Surbjit “Shaba” Khera, pending further management “investigation”.
The CWU union had threatened a strike across Leicester if Shaba, who was suspended after allegedly swearing at a Royal Mail vehicle being driven dangerously towards a picket line, was not allowed to return to work.
However, managers in Leicester seem determined to pick a fight, and are now attempting to discipline a second rep from the same office.
Union activists in Leicester maintain that they will not allow any of their activists to be picked off.
Post Delivery workers in Sunderland last week walked out unofficially after management attempted to force them to deliver business bulk mail on a Saturday.
This contravenes national agreements between Royal Mail and the CWU union.
One worker had his pay suspended for refusing to take the extra work, prompting a walkout by the entire office.
The office returned to work on Monday morning.
Trevor Butler, secretary of the CWU’s North East Coastal Amal branch, told Socialist Worker, “Our bosses thought they would see if they could get away with getting us to clear a large backlog of mail by getting us to do extra work on a Saturday.
“This is a day when many prefer to be with friends and family, not working late.
“But by walking out, we showed that we will not be pushed around.”