Socialist Worker

We are counting on closing for Xmas

by a Counters Worker
Issue No. 1930

POST OFFICE counters workers across Britain are voting on strikes in protest at unacceptable Christmas arrangements which are an insult to both staff and claimants.

Ballots are starting in 350 out of the 560 counters branches in Britain.

For the last 30 years post offices have closed at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve—but not this year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is insisting that benefit payments cannot be made earlier in the week—as is usual when there is a bank holiday—and must be paid only on the day before this public holiday.

With millions of payments needed, the Post Office management say counters need to stay open until 4pm.

It’s a disgrace that we should have to work up to the last minute on Christmas Eve (we have to do more work after the doors close).

Why shouldn’t benefit claimants be allowed to enjoy whatever money they do get in good time for Christmas?

Our CWU union has approached Post Office managers and suggested a joint approach to the DWP to get them to rethink their position. Management refused.

The ballot closes on 15 December and the strike just might be Christmas Eve!

So one way or another we will get the time we want off work.


Bonus Dispute

WRANGLES OVER Royal Mail’s refusal to cough up the £26.28 a week bonus have caused uproar at post depots across Britain. Around 20 strike ballots have been requested over the issue in the last few weeks.

The bonus money is supposed to be paid as a result of the “major changes” which workers have accepted, including the abolition of second delivery and 30,000 job cuts.

Managers create targets at a local level which workers have to hit for four weeks in a row.

This leads to endless possibilities of disputes over what the targets are, whose work should be counted and what facilities and staffing are provided to reach the targets.

Workers in Northampton were due to strike on Friday this week and Monday next week after they “failed” their target by 1 percent some weeks. In response workers voted 95 percent for a strike.

The bonus issue has seen other strikes. Chris, a Preston postal worker, reports, “Around 150 of us at the Christian Road delivery office struck for a day last week in a dispute over the bonus that we were supposed to get from April if we hit management’s targets.

“We’re owed around £800 for making changes that Royal Mail wanted. We sweated blood to make the system work over the last 31 weeks, but we’ve only been offered money for three weeks of that.

“We are working for a profit-minded company that’s not bothered about service. We are now ready for more action.”

In Didcot, Oxfordshire, Paul Garraway reports, “Management’s minds changed once there was a sniff of a strike.

“Union members finally ran out of patience with a manager who has been messing them round for six months about the targets. Told they had ‘failed’ again, an evening meeting drew around 30 union members together and they voted unanimously for a strike ballot—and to act afterwards.

“The figures suddenly fell into place and the bonus was paid.”


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

News
Sat 4 Dec 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1930
Share this article


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.