Postal workers in Carterton and Witney in Oxfordshire were on unofficial strike this week against management bullying.
The 35 workers in Carterton walked out last week after a union health and safety rep was suspended for failing to complete his delivery round.
As laid down by procedure, he had told the manger before he went out that the amount of mail was impossible to deliver.
After finishing his time span he returned the excess mail to the office. He was then suspended. The 100 workers at Witney came out the next day. They have also been suffering from excessive workloads and management bullying.
Intensive talks with bosses led to an offer to reinstate the Carterton worker – but at Wantage which is 19 miles away.
An Oxfordshire CWU member told Socialist Worker, “We want the suspension lifted. We hope that other offices will realise the importance of this issue and give us the best possible support.”
Bob Cullen, CWU area processing rep from Oxford, says, “The amount of mail staff are being asked to deliver is increasing all the time and they feel bullied and harassed.
“The delivery round our member at Carterton was given was supposed to take three and a half hours but he was given six hours worth of mail to deliver and brought some back when he could not deliver all of it.
“They suspended him for wilful delay of the mail.”
The walkout in Witney was prompted by a grievance about the way a staff member was treated after returning to work following a long period of sick leave.
The best way to support Oxford is for other offices to show the same spirit as Carterton and Witney and walk out until the issue is resolved.
This is not an isolated case. In response to the Oxford case a CWU member told Socialist Worker, “We had a member suspended for exactly the same reason in April at the Hampstead delivery office. We refused to go on the sorting the next day until the member of staff was put back onto his walk.
“The management’s refusal led to a three-hour walkout by staff. Within two days sanctions were imposed. No union activity was allowed on Royal Mail property, no contact with a union rep was allowed unless a manager was informed first.
“All local agreements were scrapped and sorting extended from one and a half hours to what time the delivery office manager thinks is right.
“Nearly three months after the incident the person involved has just been given a serious charge finding which will remain on his record for two years.”
The regime of bullying has to be confronted.
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