Postal workers escalated their unofficial strike action against Royal Mail today, with scores of new offices in different parts of Britain walking out. Aggressive office managers demanding changes to usual working practices provoked many of the walkouts.
The issues that trigger the action include outrage at the imposition of new start times, defence of union reps who are being threatened with disciplinary action, allocation of overtime payments, and new management demands for flexibility from postal workers.
Workers have been particularly angered by Royal Mail’s decision to dock the pay of those who took part in the two 48 hour strikes from a single week’s wage packet. That means that many are going to receive less that £50 in this week’s wages.
The areas of the country that are currently affected by unofficial strikes are:
North: 13 delivery offices in Finchley, Highgate, Hornsey, Lower Edmonton, New Southgate, Palmers Green, Southgate, Stoke Newington, Upper Holloway, Whetstone and Winchmore Hill all joined the action today. More are expected to follow tomorrow.
East: Four new offices joined the Bow Locks mail centre, the PRC distribution hub and four other delivery offices that were already on strike. A union activist told Socialist Worker that plans are now in place to bring out the remaining offices.
South west: Every office in this district, with the exception of South Lambeth, has now joined the Nine Elms mail centre on strike. A union activist at the mail centre told Socialist Worker that very few workers have crossed the picket line there, with most who have being part timers. He expects the strike to remain very solid.
South east: A further four delivery offices joined the existing four on strike this morning. Moves by Royal Mail to discipline senior union reps has served to increase the numbers. A worker at the Mandela Way office in Southwark told Socialist Worker that their walk out began yesterday, after management had brought mail from the striking Nine Elms mail centre to be delivered by casual workers at his office.
All delivery offices in Liverpool have now joined the strike, with the Prescot office, which struck this morning, being the latest.
A postal worker in the city told Socialist Worker that the mood among his workmates was “fantastic”, and that each day sees new faces on his picket line. More than 800 postal workers attended a mass meeting of the CWU union this afternoon, to discuss the dispute. Despite being told by union officials that they must return to work, no one in the meeting voted to go back.
Workers at the Leeds mail centre stopped work for more than an hour after management attempted to change overtime allocations. Collection workers at Harehills and Seacroft delivery offices have walked out after management demanded total flexibility of function and workplace from them. A CWU activist in Yorkshire said that reps across the region are reporting an atmosphere of tension.
The Cotteridge delivery office walked out for an hour this morning after hearing of the wage deduction scandal. Initially they were determined to stay out, but were persuaded to return after their CWU union official told them that they would be “on their own” if they did.
After being told that “Doing the job properly” was the only allowable response to management’s provocation, a frustrated worker argued, “We could work to rule today, but what will happen come Monday morning? We shouldn’t go back in there.”
The Cannon Park office walked out yesterday on hearing of the wage deductions. A postal worker from the office told Socialist Worker, “We will not be beaten, but Gordon Brown and the bosses will. One result of this strike is that the political levy is finished in our office, and so is the Labour vote.”
Workers in Edinburgh North West and Grangemouth walked out this morning after learning of the way wages deductions for strike days had been implemented. There are also unconfirmed reports of sporadic action in Fife.
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