Around 1,000 engineers who service the Royal Mail network have voted in favour of strikes.
The CWU members employed by Romec have taken a stand after seeing their wages deteriorate in comparison to the industry rate for their job.
Steve Jones, a member of the CWU national executive, told Socialist Worker, “Romec workers operate in Royal Mail, but also have contracts in the Houses of Parliament and with high street stores.
“The 69 percent vote for action shows that our members are very concerned about how their earnings have deteriorated since the launching of the joint venture with a company that is part of Balfour Beatty.
“Management has offered a 3.2 percent rise. They also claim a bonus should be taken into account, but in previous years this has not been considered part of the deal. Romec pay really has been falling behind other workers.
“The Joint Industry Board (JIB) for the electrical contracting industry each year publishes a handbook giving pay rates and details of associated benefits for the industry’s 40,000 staff. The JIB rates are regarded by employers as a minimum standard to benchmark against.
“In 2002 before outsourcing, Romec rates for a Technician 1 grade were £1,296 a year higher than JIB rates, £889 a year higher for a Technician 2 and £310 a year higher for a Technician 2 at entry rate — according to Romec’s own figures.
“Now, even if Romec’s current 3.2 per cent offer is taken into account, the deferential still shrinks considerably — by almost half in some cases. A Technician 1 rate would be £682 a higher, a Technician 2 £398 a year higher and a Technician 2 at entry rate £109 a year less than the JIB rate.
“It should be a warning to other workers of the dangers of privatisation and what it means for workers’ pay and conditions.
“Our members were told outsourcing would enable Romec to pay increases in line with the industry it operates in. The complete opposite has happened — wages have been held down and would have been higher in Royal Mail.”
Urgent meetings were taking place this week with the company. If the talks fail and strikes are called, there could be a serious impact on the Royal Mail network. Some other postal workers have made it clear that they would not cross Romec picket lines.
Postal Workers at Bristol’s Eastern Delivery Office struck for 24 hours on Monday in a dispute about overtime payments.
It has been hoped that management would accept the principles of a deal agreed last week at the Clevedon office over the same issue, but this was rejected.
The strike was pretty well 100 percent solid among the 60 workers and follows a strong yes vote in a ballot.
Another strike will take place next Monday unless there is agreement at talks this week.
National Rally Against Post Privatisation
Wednesday 7 September, 2pm
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London
Speakers: Billy Hayes (CWU), Bob Crow (RMT), Mark Serwotka (PCS), Matt Wrack (FBU), Dave Ward (CWU), Lord Clarke of Hampstead, John Grogan MP, Dot Gibson (National Pensioners Convention)