Postal workers in Royal Mail will strike for two days this month—their first national walkout since 2009.
Workers in the CWU union will begin their action from 11am on Thursday 19 October. They delivered a thumping vote for strikes last Tuesday—by 89 percent on a 73 percent turnout.
The postal workers are fighting a huge battle to defend their pensions, pay and conditions. Bosses want to force through an attack on pensions that will see some workers lose thousands of pounds in their retirement.
And planned changes to Royal Mail’s delivery model are aimed at transforming the workforce into one based on part-time casual workers.
But the strike vote, which followed thousands of mass meetings and a steady stream of unofficial walkouts across the country, shows they’ll face strong resistance.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said, “This is a watershed dispute that will determine not only our member’s pensions, jobs and pay but also the future of the service.
“Postal workers delivered a massive yes vote for strike action and we are determined to take whatever steps are necessary to deliver an agreement that will protect and enhance our members’ terms and conditions”.
The strike vote has rattled top Royal Mail bosses. In a conference call on Wednesday, chief executive Moya Greene was challenged by managers in the Unite union demanding a a settlement on their own pensions.
Meanwhile the CWU reported that bosses across the country were “desperately asking people how they voted”.
There were also reports that some workers in east London were given forms to fill in by bosses asking how they feel about striking.
Other reports suggest workers were asked to fill in forms showing whether the CWU had notified them of the ballot result properly. It means bosses were looking for reasons to launch a legal challenge to the ballot.
Within minutes of the strike’s announcement Royal Mail said it would use all legal options it could—including applying to the High Court—to stop the strike.
But Paul Garraway, a CWU rep in Oxford, told Socialist Worker, “It would backfire if they tried a legal challenge. That would make our side even more solid—we’re already more solid than they were expecting.”
The strike will begin with processing workers and late shifts starting from 11am on Thursday, with delivery workers striking on Friday and Saturday mornings.
Paul said the next step is to make sure that the strike isn’t called off for talks, and as many strikers as possible join picket lines.
They should be joined by other trade unionists—everyone should get behind the post workers.
Paul said, “Members have just voted massively for strikes, and they want an agreement. Royal Mail will want to talk us into the New Year and then we’d be a joke.
“I would argue for everybody to be on the picket line. We have to make sure we’ve got good turnouts and that it’s solid.
“We need to show Royal Mail that we’re determined and that will mean a good turnout on the picket line and a solid strike.”