A very big issue in the post dispute is the change to delivery office start times that managers are threatening to implement on or around 13 August.
Royal Mail wants everyone to start an hour later than they do now, directly affecting 78,000 postal workers, and thousands more indirectly.
So why should workers complain about starting at 6am rather than 5am, or at 7am rather than 6am?
Firstly, it will cause upheaval for many who built their lives around the present start times. Childcare and other arrangements – even second jobs – may be affected.
At a typical office, workers have been told that new starting times are to be 6.15am to 2.15pm for five days scheduled over Monday to Saturday for town deliveries, and 7.15am to 3.15pm for rural.
If you’re doing the rural delivery, and have a journey afterwards you can’t pick up your kids from school.
Secondly, those moving from an early start will lose £12.50 a week. They will still have very unsocial hours, but they will lose this extra money.
The loss will more than wipe out the £8.50 “rise” offered in the present pay dispute.
It will mean a worse service, with even later deliveries.
But perhaps the biggest issue is Royal Mail’s right to impose major change without agreement or proper negotiation. If they can do it about this, what comes next?
Our union has to be ready to hit back hard. We cannot just work the new times. Many of us think that means genuine defiance and, if necessary, unofficial action.
I am perfectly prepared to listen to the alternatives, but they will have to be compelling.
In the meantime we should redouble our efforts not to help out management, whether on strike days or not.
As Bob Gibson, the CWU assistant secretary outdoor, rightly puts it, “There are currently offices around the country that have come to the conclusion that enough is enough and that Royal Mail gets only what it pays for.
“They have started to do the job properly – nobody starts before their due time and everyone is taking their full meal relief entitlement, they have also ceased the use of private cars on delivery.”
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More defiance is needed