Give us a break
ALMOST 1,000 postal workers in Watford struck officially over three days last week as part of their continuing action against cuts in breaks and new shift patterns. Only a handful of people went into work, and most of them were non-union members. Royal Mail brought in managers from Chester, Swindon and Wolverhampton to cover the work, but they got very little done. Postboxes remained sealed throughout the strike.
"The atmosphere inside the office is poisonous," says a CWU member. "They have taken away our right to breaks so that now people start at 5.30am and have to wait until 9.10am to get a cup of tea. Last week a pregnant woman was refused leave to have a break. It sickens me that you have to go in to a manager, with a steaming cup of coffee on his desk, to ask if you can go for a glass of water. And then you might get the thumbs down."
In the middle of the strike a mass meeting voted unanimously to continue the dispute. The negotiations are now being taken over by CWU deputy general secretary John Keggie.
Keggie's intervention shows the CWU leaders know this is an important dispute. The danger is that he may settle for less than the membership wants. The Socialist Alliance was well received on the picket line, and a local Socialist Alliance representative spoke at the strikers' mass meeting.
AROUND 150 postal workers struck unofficially in Greenock, near Glasgow, for four days last week over bullying, harassment, speed ups, and cuts in overtime pay. A CWU member told Socialist Worker, "Management are on our backs all the time. They make workers take tests to judge work performance, and then run the tests again and again. It's putting pressure on people. We have had enough of this sort of treatment. Nationally we know that the Post Office is going on the offensive against union organisation and trying to make us all work harder. We can feel it here really strongly, and we decided to do something about it."
The strike forced management to take the grievances seriously and promise an investigation. But many members were unhappy that they had not won enough.
BRANCHES involved in recent crucial postal strikes-Liverpool, Cardiff and Oxford-have called a meeting in London to discuss the implications of their struggles:
- CWU meeting, Saturday 24 March, 12 noon, University of London Union, Malet Street, central London.
THE NEW issue of Post Worker, the paper written by rank and file postal workers, is out now. It includes reports by people involved in recent strikes, an overview of what management is up to, and articles from Billy Hayes and John Keggie, who are standing in the general secretary election.
Several CWU branches have already put in bulk orders. For your copy phone 0958 478 631.