Socialist Worker

Postal workers' strike restarts with solid walkouts

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2071

Thousands of postal workers restarted their long running dispute with Royal Mail today by walking out in the first of two planned 48-hour strikes.

The strikes, organised by the CWU union, are a response to Royal Mail's below-inflation pay offer, attacks on the company pension scheme, and a threat to introduce 'total flexibility' into the company.

The 'flexibility' proposal means forcing workers to start and finish whenever they are told, and to undertake any duty in the office, regardless of what job they are employed to do.

Many CWU reps report that the latest action is completely solid, with workers who scabbed during the first phase of the strike earlier this summer now joining the action.

'This is the most solid strike I have seen in my eight years here,' Ron Eastham, the deputy area processing rep at the Nine Elms mail centre in south London told Socialist Worker.

'Managers here have gone on the offensive in recent weeks by trying to change our start and finish times, and disregarding health and safety agreements in order to move more mail. But we are in no mood to let them get away with that.

'Bosses had hoped that some of the part time workers, and more of the casuals, would have crossed the picket line today. But that is not the case. In fact we've managed to turn away some of the casuals who were working in the mail centre yesterday.

'We also have a lot of workers here who have come from war-torn countries like Somalia. These people know what oppression is, and they are not about to start taking shit from managers.

'Out of a workforce of more than 1,200 people, we are only expecting a few dozen to work during the strike.'

There was also much discussion on the picket lines of the role of Gordon Brown and the government in the dispute.

'Everyone here at Nine Elms knows that we are in fight with the government as well as Royal Mail,' says Paul Cox, who is the area processing rep at the south London office.

'But with a possible election coming, we've got an extremely strong hand. We must make sure we use it to maximum effect. For our union, this dispute is 'shit or bust'.'

The strike was also strong in the Paddington mail centre, west London. Reps told Socialist Worker that only four workers had crossed picket lines to start the afternoon shift, despite the fact that the announced closure of the office means many will be expecting to take redundancy in the near future.

At PDRC in Stonebridge Park, north west London – the main rail terminal for London's mail – reps told Socialist Worker that the strike was completely solid, with not a single scab.

Likewise, Mark Dolan, the CWU's area delivery rep for north London, reported 98 percent solid action across north/north west distribution area.

Reps from across Britain have told Socialist Worker that the more that postal workers hear about what their bosses are expecting them to do under the proposed new arrangements, the more strongly they are backing the strike.

There will be more reports from postal workers' picket lines on our website tomorrow. Full reports and analysis will appear in the next edition of Socialist Worker, on the web on Tuesday evening and in print from Wednesday morning.


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Thu 4 Oct 2007, 16:12 BST
Issue No. 2071
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