Postal workers in Royal Mail and Parcelforce are preparing for battle after their CWU union last week announced a national strike ballot.
CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger told reps at a national meeting last week to “get ready for the fight of your lives”.
Over 100,000 postal workers will begin balloting for strikes from Tuesday 17 September, ending on Tuesday 8 October.
The ballot is likely to end in an overwhelming vote for action—and could lead to a national strike as soon as late October.
Gary Smith, a CWU rep in the South Midlands mail centre, told Socialist Worker, “Everybody I’ve talked to in the workplace is up for the fight. And the mood at last week’s meeting was one of anger, but also positivity.
“There’s a real feeling that it’s about time we had action.” Chief executive Rico Back wants to turn Royal Mail into a company similar to parcel delivery companies such as DPD and Hermes.
Delivery drivers in these companies are on much worse terms and conditions.
Royal Mail’s latest move was to announce that Parcelforce would be separated off and turned into a limited company.
It’s part of a bigger plan to change delivery methods in Royal Mail, that could mean as many as 20,000 job losses.
On top of those attacks, bosses have reneged on targets to reduce the length of the working week—a measure designed to protect jobs against automation.
And despite promising a “change in culture,” Royal Mail workers have faced an increase in bullying by managers. Unofficial strikes by workers against bullying managers in delivery officers have hit a rate of one a week.
The union says bosses have effectively broken an agreement signed late last year that was supposed to protect working conditions.
CWU national officer Davie Robertson said, “Rico Back is now taking the first steps in what we would view as dismantling everything we’ve fought long and hard for in Royal Mail.
“We cannot step back from this fight.
“The leadership of this company has declared war on this trade union and they won’t find us wanting.”
The deal—the Four Pillars agreement—was signed between Royal Mail bosses and CWU officials after Royal Mail workers voted overwhelmingly for strikes in 2017.
The agreement meant that workers were not called out on strike.
But many feel it only posponed a fight that has been a long time coming.
The union says there will be gate meetings at every workplace in the coming weeks.
“We will deliver another resounding Yes vote,” said Gary.
“There are a lot of people who are pissed off—this is long overdue.”