Socialist Worker

Even Scrooge didn’t rob us at New Year too

by Mark Dolan, area delivery rep North/North West London
Issue No. 1928

THOUSANDS OF Post Office workers in London are about to start a strike ballot that could halt mail deliveries over Christmas.

We don’t want to take action at our busiest time, but management are forcing us into it by their Scrooge-like attitude.

The simple explanation is that Royal Mail are attacking our terms and conditions. They want us to absorb all the extra work over Christmas without any extra pay.

Christmas is hard work for us, with loads of extra post and constant pressure to finish the job. It does mean extra money, but that’s richly deserved.

Management want to transfer all the cash they would normally lay out in overtime to their profits—all to the greater glory of top boss Allan Leighton.

Now here’s the more complicated bit of the explanation.

Practically all delivery workers now do a five-day week. In order to cover the six days of postal deliveries (including Saturdays), everyone has a rotating day off.

So one week you’ll have Monday off, the next week Tuesday and so on. The days off are covered by full time staff known as rest day covers.

The only exception is a small percentage of the workforce who still do a 48-hour six-day week and then have a whole week off after five weeks.

Now this year Christmas is a Saturday. So Royal Mail suggested that for the week beginning 20 December we should all work Monday to Friday with Saturday (Christmas Day!) as the rest day for that week.

This was a sick enough plan on its own, but in addition they could use rest day cover staff to do extra work.

If we all do the same days in Christmas week then the rest day staff are not needed and can all be reassigned to mop up extra work. Marvellous!

London is quite right to ballot. The announcement of the intention to ballot panicked Royal Mail and they came up with a different plan, which would still mean longer duties than normal and would cut into our Christmas earnings.

Talks are continuing, but the union at every level should be pushing for a deal that properly recognises the extra work we do.


POST OFFICE counters workers across Britain are also preparing for a strike ballot.

This is due to Post Office Limited changing their Christmas Eve arrangements that post offices close at 12.30pm. This has been in place for over 70 years.

Management claim the later opening is needed to allow Benefits Agency claimants to receive their payments.

Counters workers say they should be allowed to get the money earlier in Christmas week—as has been the case for as long as anyone can remember.

ABOUT 200 people took part in a march through Newton Abbot in Devon last week in protest at the Post Office’s decision to shut a branch.

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Article information

Sat 20 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1928
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