CWU union reps have reacted with outrage to the decision by Royal Mail to shut ten mail centres and axe thousands of postal worker jobs across Britain.
Despite a national agreement on closures that is supposed to bind Royal Mail into proper discussions with the union, the company has refused to enter into any meaningful talks.
Union reps agreed at a national meeting last week that all the affected mail centres would now ballot for industrial action.
The ten threatened centres are: Bolton, Coventry, Crewe, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Oldham, Oxford, Reading, Southend and Stockport.
Gareth Eales is deputy branch secretary of Northampton CWU. He says the union is united in its determination to fight the closure plans – even in areas like his, where a new mail centre is planned.
“Management are using ‘rationalisation’ as a stick to beat the whole union with,” Gareth told Socialist Worker.
“It’s not just the mail centres that are at stake – there’s the question of delivery office closures and the way that new technology is being introduced.
“That’s why I think these ballots could be the first shots in a wider battle. If the company won’t discuss its closure plans with the union, is it likely to negotiate about working patterns in the new centres?
“Standing together with our colleagues in the centres that are being closed is not just a moral responsibility – it’s in our best interests for the other fights that lie ahead. That’s why Northampton will be requesting a ballot to join the action too.”
Lee Barron, the CWU’s regional secretary for the Midlands, agrees. He told Socialist Worker, “It’s good that Northampton are going to ballot for action.
“I know that workers there wouldn’t touch work that has come from Coventry or Milton Keynes while they are on strike.
“I also think the national union is right to say there can be no more talking to Royal Mail about closures at a local level. We cannot fight closures piecemeal – we have to hold the line for a national agreement.
“The closure programme shows that Royal Mail only talks to the union when it sees fit. The union must have a national response.
“We must draw a line in the sand and defend our pension scheme, mail centres, delivery offices and activists – like those at Burslem in Stoke who are still awaiting justice after so many months of being sacked.”