Some 130,000 postal workers in the Communication Workers
Union were due to return to work today after taking successful strike action in
defence of terms and conditions.
However many workers were scandalized to discover that
management had imposed new attendance times without their consent. This
provocative action fuelled the latest walkouts in different parts of the
country. Royal Mail confirmed that unofficial strike action is taking place in
Liverpool and London. The unofficial stoppage was called at district offices
throughout Liverpool and soon spread to the main sorting office at Copperas
Hill, while workers at branches in east and south London also walked out. In
Glasgow workers at the Victoria Road office have also joined the unofficial
stoppage. The action could easily spread to other offices around the country.
Royal Mail worker David Wall, a postman with the Walton
office in Liverpool, said hundreds of postal workers had gone back to the
picket lines to protest against the changes to flexible working hours. These
included the end to leave early once staff finished their round. He explained
that the unofficial strikes were triggered by new Royal Mail rules, which they
had not consented to. Usually, postal workers began their shift between 0500
and 0530 and were free to go when they had finished their round. But management
has stepped in to stop this practice, provoking anger and the walkouts.
Royal Mail spokesperson reiterated the line that the company
was "extremely concerned at the unlawful unofficial strike action taking
place at a handful of sites". He continued, "Unlawful action is
wholly unacceptable and must be condemned by the trade union".
It was this loss of flexibility, and not pay, which was the main
reason why postal workers were on strike. It was Royal Mail management that
introduced this flexibility when it suited them, but now they want to take it
away claiming they needed to “modernize” the business and save money.
It is clear that Royal Mail management is determined to
break the union and impose their cost-cutting measures on the workforce. In
this, they have clearly got the backing of the government who has refused to
step in and settle the dispute. This strategy is part and parcel of the
government’s attempt to hold down public-sector pay increases to about 2% over
the next three years. This has provoked fury amongst trade unionists and has
opened up the possibility of a "winter of discontent".
Full support to the postal workers! Spread the action!
Force Royal Mail to back down!
Reject the 2% wage restraint proposals!