COUNTERS WORKERS struck in almost 300 post offices across Britain on Christmas Eve.
The action was in protest at the decision to keep the offices open until 4pm and abolish the traditional 12.30pm closing time.
Ian Ward, a London counters CWU union rep, told Socialist Worker, “The action was a real success and showed how committed people are to fairness. They are not going to be bullied out of what they deserve.”
CWU members in 353 large post offices took part in an office by office ballot for strike action in defence of the 12.30pm finish—which has been in place for decades—and 294 returned yes votes.
Overall, 84 percent of those balloted voted for action on a 60 percent turnout.
CWU national officer Andy Furey said, “The Post Office’s position was both intransigent and illogical. There was no need to keep offices open until 4pm on Christmas Eve, and to suggest otherwise is absurd.
“Our members worked tirelessly in the run-up to Christmas to provide an excellent service.
“To try and force them to work at a time when they want to be with their family and friends is insulting. What sort of festive message was that?
“The 12.30pm finish has been in place for decades. The public are used to it and employees deserve it.
“We exhausted every single avenue to avoid industrial action, but the Post Office’s dogmatic stance left the union with no other option.”
Amanda Halloran, a counters worker from north east England, said, “Management say that commercial pressures mean we have to stay open longer.
“This is just another example of how they want to turn us away from a public service into a private business ripe for a sell off. That’s another reason why people joined the strike.”
Management tried to claim that the later opening was to help people claiming benefits.
But Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners Convention said, “We reject as mischievous and divisive all those who say postal workers were acting to deprive pensioners of their money at Christmas. This totally false claim is against all our experience.
“We know and appreciate the patience, good humour and helpfulness given to pensioners throughout the year—especially at a time when many are upset and stressed by the government’s withdrawal of pension books and the closure of post offices.
“All the extra work postal workers do to provide a service at Christmas meant they deserved to close at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve so they could get home to their families.”