Union reps from the postal workers CWU union across London agreed a timetable last week for a ballot for industrial action and strikes that would follow.
Management cost-cutting and job-slashing measures that trample on national agreements with the union have triggered the action, but the issues of Royal Mail privatisation and the attack on the company pension scheme are also causing bitterness.
Over 120,000 workers will be balloted unit by unit and could be on strike by the end of May.
Meanwhile growing anger at Royal Mail has seen a rash of local disputes. Postal workers in Watford are demanding a strike ballot after managers suspended CWU 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. Our union committee met on Thursday last week 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 until the charges are dropped.
“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 that report management abuse of agreed safe working practices.
One said that many reps are now considering a boycott of a forthcoming Royal Mail meeting on safety scheduled for a few weeks’ time in London.
Delivery workers in Upper Edmonton, north London, struck for the third time on Saturday of last week in a dispute about reduced-hours contracts.
These contracts breach agreements with the union and will mean existing staff are forced to cover extra work.
Woolwich delivery office in south London was also on strike last weekend in defence of a worker who was sacked. The union strongly disputes the evidence used against him.
CWU branch secretary Roy Vargerson told Socialist Worker, “We can’t put up with bullying and harassment any more. This fight has come from the workers themselves – it’s solidarity in action. It’s the members that have told the union to act.”
Activists in local areas are mounting guerilla resistance to a concerted national Royal Mail plan to ram through changes and break the union in the run-up to the privatisation.
It is vital the national CWU responds with preparations for a national strike.