Postal workers at a Royal Mail delivery office in Ferndale, South Wales, staged an unofficial strike on Tuesday and Wednesday over problems with management.
The members of the CWU union walked out after a long-running dispute with a manager reached a head. Between 25 and 30 people stopped work on Tuesday morning, saying they wouldn’t return until the manager had been moved, or there was a formal investigation.
Amarjite Singh, secretary of CWU South East Wales Amal branch told Socialist Worker, “The members were at the end of their tether and couldn’t see any option.
“They did not want to walk out—it was a last resort. This is a delivery office that has never walked out unofficially before.”
The dispute with management follows the merger of the delivery office with one in nearby Treorchy last year. Amarjite said that management had failed to manage the new combined workplace properly.
The new manager was accused of not sticking to agreements signed between the CWU and Royal Mail over staffing arrangements for annual and sick leave.
After talks, CWU reps believed they had made progress. But last Friday, said Amarjite, the manager “turned everything that was agreed on its head.”
The manager left work on Friday and didn’t come back until Tuesday, after which the workers walked out. They only returned after CWU reps reached a new agreement with bosses.
The walkout comes as Royal Mail workers at another Wales delivery office—Swansea—are preparing to ballot for strikes. They are demanding that bosses reinstate sacked worker Martin Henwood—a Royal Mail worker of 32 years, with no disciplinary record.
Management accuse Martin of not following procedure on unaddressed mail, despite the fact he followed the protocol of the office.
Martin’s workmates demanded a strike ballot at a mass gate meeting after he was sacked.
Gary Williams, secretary of the local CWU South West Wales Amal Branch, said, “Members here are furious at the way local management have behaved towards Martin.
“We are absolutely 100 per cent determined to win his full re-instatement and we’re expecting an overwhelming Yes vote in the ballot.”
The disputes over management behaviour come despite a promise of “cultural change” made by Royal Mail in an agreement that headed off a major dispute last year.
Yet at CWU postal conference in April, several workers and delegates spoke of how they’d seen no change in bosses’ attitudes. Speaking to conference Bob McGuire from the North East region said, “We aren’t putting up with bullying managers. We need dignity and respect in the work place.”
Amarjite told Socialist Worker, “Royal Mail changing their culture—it’s easier to say than to believe it will happen. Getting Royal Mail to change their stance and their culture is very difficult.
“Although we got the agreement, to me they haven’t demonstrated that yet. Royal Mail doesn’t make it easy for us because they just don’t give us the trust in them.”