Postal workers in Watford are demanding a strike ballot after Royal Mail managers suspended the CWU union’s safety rep Bob Kennedy in a dispute about unsafe working practices.
Watford CWU branch secretary Alan Walsh insists that Bob was doing his job by insisting managers put a stop to dangerous and unagreed working practices.
Alan told Socialist Worker, “People here are very angry. Health and safety can be a life or death matter in our line of work—the union’s safety reps perform a vital job of protecting our members.”
“Our union committee met this afternoon and decided to give Bob our 100 percent backing. We’re asking for an immediate industrial action ballot in all the units that Bob covers.
“We’ve also told Royal Mail that we will not cooperate with any revision to working practices at the mail centre until the charges are dropped.
“Management allegations of intimidation against Bob are completely false, and we believe that this can be proved beyond doubt. In fact, we are planning to put a counter-claim of intimidation against the manager involved.
“In the meantime we believe that there should be a review of industrial relations at Royal Mail in Watford. Recently, managers have removed union facility time from some of our reps.
“There have also been acts of vandalism against union property—including an attempt to destroy our anti-privatisation publicity materials.
“All of this requires a proper investigation.
“Unless Royal Mail back down quickly there is a likelihood of a strike across much of Watford.”
Socialist Worker has spoken to other union safety reps who report management abuse of agreed safe working practices. One told Socialist Worker that many reps are now considering a boycott of a forthcoming Royal Mail meeting on safety scheduled in London in a few weeks’ time.