POSTAL workers were on the brink of strike ballots or even unofficial walkouts as Socialist Worker went to press. Nationally, final talks with Royal Mail bosses were taking place to see if management would offer a decent pay deal that was not linked to crushing productivity demands.
Post Office chairman Allan Leighton said last month that workers could get a 14.5 percent rise. But this was dependent on mass job losses and hitting virtually impossible targets. In reality the rise was just 4.5 percent over 18 months. Faced with growing feeling against such a deal, Post Office bosses have shown some signs of retreating and instead offering a straight pay rise. But it was unclear how much.
The strongest push for action over pay is in London. The high cost of living means that workers cannot survive on around £330 a week for inner London (including bonuses and London weighting) and £310 for outer London. This week many London activists were clamouring for immediate action over London weighting.
Postal workers in London planned to meet to decide their next step, and there were strong voices for walkouts. The claim is for an increase in London weighting to £4,000 as a stepping stone towards parity with the Metropolitan Police - who get £6,000.
In May London postal workers voted by 99.5 percent for action over weighting in an unofficial ballot. The latest developments mean that the vote may be turned into strikes.
Norman Candy, the CWU London divisional representative, told Socialist Worker, 'Our members are outraged at the insulting offer we received from Royal Mail. We wanted to have weighting addressed properly to take account of the soaring costs of living in London.'
Postal workers need to start action to derail Leighton's plans to hold down pay and cut jobs. If London begins the fight then it will be a great boost to the national pay battle.
Activists should pressure the union leaders to call an immediate national strike ballot and to support those who want to walk out now.
The new issue of the rank and file paper Post Worker is out now. It includes analysis of key issues like TDS, the mail centre review, pay and job cuts. It also has reports from Ilford and Coventry and statements from the candidates for outdoor secretary. Order your copies from 07904 157 779.