Around 500 postal workers and their supporters marched in Bletchley on Saturday to protest at the announced closure of Milton Keynes mail centre.
The march came as 17 mail centres across Britain started a strike ballot over Royal Mail’s closure plans that threaten thousands of jobs and the quality of services.
The ballot covers offices in the Midlands, north west England and the Thames Valley and closes on 3 December.
Dave Ward, the deputy general secretary of the postal workers’ CWU union, told marchers, “Nobody can guarantee you will win everything if you fight, but you will have hope and dignity—and you will make management squirm because their arguments for closure are fake.”
He added that, although some Labour MPs and party members were backing the CWU’s campaign, he didn’t see how the union could indefinitely put up with giving money to a party that then turned against CWU members.
Lee Baron, the union’s Midlands regional secretary, spoke passionately about how Northampton mail centre had been threatened with closure 15 years ago.
He pointed out that, after other offices had pledged not to handle its work without agreement, the threat was lifted. Lee pledged that Northampton would now repay that solidarity.
Saturday’s march showed a readiness to fight on the part of postal workers.
It is now vital that the ballot for strike action is won and that CWU leaders call effective action quickly.
With the issues of pensions and privatisation affecting all postal workers, the CWU is almost certain to need a national battle if it is going to win.
The possibility of postal workers in York taking strike action took a step closer last weekend.
CWU members voted unanimously to ballot for strike action over plans to move the sorting of second-class mail to Leeds, which has raised concerns for the future of York’s mail centre.