Unofficial walkouts are adding to the scale of the ongoing strike action by postal workers across the country.
A series of impressive unofficial walkouts have demonstrated the feeling to hit back at management in the post.
Workers in Chester have taken unofficial action, as they have in Aberdeen.
Post workers in Liverpool’s Copperas Hill returned to work after an unofficial strike sparked by their refusal to unload scab mail. The drivers then were docked pay for refusing to cross a delivery office picket line. So the office walked out again today.
Workers in the Team Valley mail centre in Tyneside have walked out after a CWU rep was suspended for refusing to handle mail brought from Glasgow. The unofficial action in Glasgow continues (see » Unofficial post strikes show feeling for a fight).
These unofficial walkouts come on top of the tens of thousands workers in delivery offices on official strike.
Across the country reports show many of the pickets larger at the delivery offices than in the previous days of disputes.
In North West London Cricklewood and Kilburn delivery offices saw 20 pickets. In East London, Vicarage Lane saw 30 on a lively picket line, while there were 25 at the Tredegar Road office.
The growing unofficial strikes and the solid official action show that pressure needs to be stepped up on Royal Mail by all means available. Pushing for action alongside other unions is central to forcing the government and the bosses to back off.
Add your name to the open letter calling for solidarity and united action (» An appeal to trade unionists).
There were 22 pickets at the delivery office on Thursday morning. The workers were lifted by a 200 strong demonstration of postal workers and supporters that marched through Bristol City Centre on Tuesday.
Local branches of other unions, public sector and beyond, were out in full support.
Banners were brought from the PCS, Unite, FBU, Rolls Royce, Unison unions, Bath Trades Council and Stop the War. The mood was vibrant and a rally after the march attracted much attention from the general public as it was in a prime location.
Jerry Hicks, speaking from Respect said, ‘We are strongest when we fight together and we need to fight alongside the PCS, NUT and other unions.’ He talked of how easily they could find £76 billion for nuclear weapons but were cutting jobs and pay.
Other speakers including from Bristol PCS talked of the dispute as being a fight against privatisation – one that unites all public sector workers.
Only two scabs reported in for work today at Luton depot. Kelvin Hopkins MP for Luton North attended a CWU meeting on Wednesday and some of the pickets were due to travel to Bedford for a meeting to be addressed by CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward. Later at 5pm CWU reps were due to meet up with representatives of PCS, Unison, NUT and TSSA to organise support for the strike.
There were 22 on the picket line in Preston. Post worker Steve told Socialist Worker, “It’s become more obvious this week that action is escalating everywhere – though especially in Scotland.
“We had a meeting with the management on Monday and negotiation isn’t going anywhere. They’re just refusing to even talk about this. We’re prepared to do anything to push this forwards – maybe joint action with the PCS.
“We’re talking about the possibility of striking Saturday and Monday, but two days like that would begin to affect our members, so we do need to start thinking about hardship funds perhaps.”
Another worker told Socialist Worker, “I’ve just seen the film ‘This is England’ and there’s a real sense that what we’re going through now is very similar to the Thatcher days.
“I remember doing benefit gigs for the Miners in 1985 and the feeling of support we’re getting is very similar. I want to know what Alan Johnson has got to say about this-we’ve had no statement from him at all – and yet he used to be one of us.
“I used to be proud to be a postman – now I wouldn’t send my worst enemy in there. They want a totally subservient workforce – they aren’t going to get it.”
Pickets at the Woodford Green delivery office in east London were in confident mood during today’s strike.
Strikers reported that so far management has not felt confident enough to attempt to make the changes to delivery times that Royal Mail expected to be implement by 13 August.
Ryan Ward, the area safety rep for the Romford Amal branch, told Socialist Worker that an extremely large backlog of mail is building up across his branch and that the Romford mail centre is “absolutely chocker”.
A large picket line at the Walthamstow delivery office in east London ensured that there was no increase in the small number of scabs who are working through the strike.
Out of an office of more than 110 staff, ten staff went in to join their managers.
Pickets were warmly received when they went out to collect donations at the local underground station.
Post workers at Bolsover sorting depot in Derbyshire are confident of winning the dispute. They can already report that the backlog is growing and now demand that other public sector workers get on board. As Dave, the local shop steward, said, “if all public sector unions join in we can be certain of a good result.”
Ray Holmes, Respect councillor
Pickets say Brick Knoll Park sorting office in St Albans in Hertfordshire is “Still solid and still steadfast”.
“The strike is beginning to bite now,” says one picket, “There’s two or three days backlog in there. The management are getting pissed off now as well.
“The support we’re getting from the public is great. It’s joint action with the PCS that’ll really drive it home.”
I am a member of the National Pensioners’ Convention and got a warm reception when I attended the delivery office picket line at Burnley in Lancashire. Workers decided to stage a mass leafleting of Burnley town centre and the bus station. People were eager to take the leaflets. One issue that came up time and again from older people was the closure of smaller post offices not only locally but nationwide.
John P Johnston
Streatham in south London is a very well organised office and there was no scabbing at all. In between strikes the staff are working to rule, and a lot of work is piling up. The backlog is so big that today managers – including senior managers – were sent over from Wimbledon Delivery Office to help out.
There were around ten pickets at Acton in west London, with the same number at Chiswick and Ealing, where a Unison rep presented a £100 donation to the picket line from his branch.
Mitchell Morris, the rep at Acton, said, “The mood on the picket lines is as strong as it has ever been. The strikes have been a success, and we should continue with them.”
The Leicester NDO picket goes from strength to strength. This morning saw even more new people join the picket line for the first time, with 18 members turning up by 5am.
The number of people crossing was again reduced – one had to cross the line at high speed nearly knocking over a CWU rep.
Solidarity from other groups of workers was inspiring today. GMB union members from British Gas, T&G members from Biffa and Jelson workers refusing to cross our picket line. One Romec worker who had to cross apologised and said “we are balloting at the moment our results should be in soon, then we can be out on the line with you”. The feeling of solidarity between us is so strong now, we all are ready to fight this to it’s end and we know we can win.
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