There were signs at the start of this week that Royal Mail management were preparing for new attacks just as workers were organising for a national strike ballot in five weeks time.
In several areas of Britain managers have notified branches of plans to “lapse walks” (get the same number of deliveries done by fewer people) or simply to eliminate jobs.
An earlier “moratorium”, agreed by bosses and the CWU union, prevented Royal Mail from imposing such measures by “executive action” (without agreement) before 1 June.
Once that deadline expires, it is perfectly possible that Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton may allow a series of deliberate assaults in an effort to destabilise the union in the run-up to the ballot.
Workers have already begun preparing for the strike vote, determined not to repeat the shortcomings of 2003 when a national pay ballot was defeated.
In addition the prospect of strike action in high street post offices as well as Royal Mail was raised by the passage of an emergency motion at the recent CWU union conference.
The vote covers counters and clerical staff plus those who work in the Cash In Transit division. The motion about counters workers called on Post Office Limited (POL) to reopen stalled pay negotiations with the aim of reaching a settlement.
If such negotiations fail to materialise the union’s executive is empowered to conduct a consultative ballot with a view to holding an immediate industrial action ballot among members.
A series of speakers derided the 2.9 percent “final offer” placed on the table by POL. “The time has come to take POL on,” said assistant secretary Andy Furey. “We will take our argument for the future of the network to the government. We can do this if we put the hard work in and do the best for members.”
Chris Osborne, of London No7 branch, said stress levels had gone up 70 percent over the past two quarters, affected by the demands of a new sales culture. “People are dropping like flies,” said Chris.
Mole Meade from south east London said, “We can play our part in the wider struggle alongside Royal Mail workers.”
Territorial Counters rep Jim Reeves pointed out how POL was offering £1.4 million across 6,000 workers, resulting in an average bonus of £200 while 500 managers were receiving £2,000 each.
Greg Charles, of London South West Postal, called on the executive to ensure minority grades were not picked on or left out. “If they won’t recognise the contribution being made we must use an industrial action ballot,” he said.