Thousands of postal workers across northern England face the axe after Royal Mail announced a major “reorganisation” of its mail centres.
Some union activists say the company wants to slash jobs in a bid to boost profits ahead of privatisation—and that a recent agreement between the CWU union and Royal Mail is helping the process.
The company plans to close the Teesside mail centre in Middlesbrough and the Darlington mail centre, and transfer work to Gateshead.
Work from York will be hived off to Leeds, while Doncaster will see its mail sent to Sheffield.
“This will destroy many postal workers’ lives and the public service,” Bertie, a long-standing union activist from Middlesbrough, told Socialist Worker.
“Royal Mail is telling us that you either face a mammoth round-trip commute, or give up your job. What kind of choice is that? This is about preparing us for privatisation—nothing more.
“But the real tragedy is, that by brokering a bad agreement with Royal Mail, the union has signed up to the logic of slashing mail centre jobs.
“We’ve accepted that there are going to be cuts and that our job is simply to negotiate the changes. That was a major mistake.
“The union says that under that the agreement it has 13 weeks to put forward alternative plans.
“But there’s nothing to stop the company saying, ‘thanks for your opinion but we’re sticking to our guns and shutting you down’.”
Bertie says the mood in his workplace is “subdued”.
“People here are saying that it doesn’t seem to matter how hard you work, or how good the quality of service you provide is, Royal Mail are only concerned with fattening in readiness for a sell-off.”
It is vital that the CWU regains the initiative over mail centre closures.
A campaign that united a defence of jobs with opposition to privatisation could rock Royal Mail, and drive back the bosses and the government.