Socialist Worker

Police riot van arrives after Royal Mail workers oppose management

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2702

A CWU union meeting at South Midlands Mail Centre in February

A CWU union meeting at South Midlands Mail Centre in February (Pic: Carl Maden CWU on Facebook)


Bosses at a Royal Mail mail centre called the police after two workers refused to cooperate with bosses’ “unreasonable” demands.

Officials from the CWU union say a “riot van” turned up after managers at the South Midlands Mail Centre called the cops earlier this month.

In a letter to members, CWU reps at the mail centre said, “Royal Mail over what could easily be described as a ‘petty’ issue opted to call the police, who actually came out with a riot van, to have these members removed from the building.”

They added, “Think about that for a second, your employer called the police to have two of your colleagues physically removed from our workplace.”

One CWU rep at the mail centre told Socialist Worker that the two workers—who operate a skilled section of the sorting process—were asked to move to another area. They were to be replaced by less-skilled agency workers.

When they disagreed, the manager called the cops to have them removed. The workers were later suspended.

Hell

The rep said, “The fact that a riot van pulled up outside the mail centre made people think, what the hell is going on? It’s absolutely ludicrous. It seems to be the attitude of some managers at the moment.”

The incident—which happened on Tuesday 7 April—came as Royal Mail struggles with its response to the coronavirus. Workload is increasing as many workers are off sick or self-isolating.

But chief executive Rico Back wants to continue with business as usual.

In some workplaces, this means managers are bringing in agency workers, and in others workers are scared about a lack of social distancing.

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The rep explained that the two workers had previous disagreements with this manager—and calling the cops is an extreme reaction. But he said some managers were “taking a leaf out of Rico Back’s book.”

The letter to members said, “It is baffling to the CWU how Royal Mail can reconcile themselves to the idea that this was a reasonable and proportionate act. To date there has been no local managerial recognition that calling the police was the wrong thing to do.”

Managers lifted the two workers' suspensions on Thursday.


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