under attack. A national strike ballot of CWU members has been called
with the result due on the 23rd
September. Following the collapse of privatisation plans in July,
Royal Mail management implemented a national directive cutting duties
without any negotiation. This was a deliberate provocation from the
management in breach of the 2007 phase four pay and
agreement and is just one of the many grievances behind the recent
outbreak of localised
strike action in over 400 offices taken by Royal Mail postal workers.
was supposed to mean acceptance of new technology. But management has
failed to invest in machinery
that was supposed to automatically walk sort and plans instead to
increase productivity through increasing workloads. The
job cuts have reduced or removed SAs (Scheduled Attendance) on which
many have come to rely in order to supplement low wages. In many
offices delivery walks have been broken up and added onto existing
walks miles from the existing walk. This deliberate provocation seems
designed by management to push forward a dispute. Recently Royal Mail
placed adverts in Jobcentres for casual workers to be employed on an
‘emergency’ basis. This is clearly an organised attempt to try to
undermine any strike action and to
smash the union.
Mandelson was forced to back down from
in July following a campaign from the CWU and opposition from Labour
MPs. But Mandelson said the plans
had only been “postponed”
due to “market conditions,” with CVC
Capital Partners and TNT, the Dutch postal group, failing to match
the Government’s expected price tag. TNT has launched massive attacks
on Dutch postal workers, threatening to sack 10,000 workers in the
Netherlands if they do not accept between 5-15% pay cuts. It is clear
that any future bidders for Royal Mail will not want a strong union
opposing attacks on pay and conditions.
postal workers are
fighting back by following a rigid work to rule regime. They are
refusing to use their private cars, meaning bag drops have to be
arranged and bikes and trolleys used instead. Bags are being weighed
and anything over regulation is left behind. Now, they finish on time
and breaks are taken. At the end of the day, any undelivered mail is
returned, causing a massive backlog of work. In July for a day the
whole of London was on strike and the week before there was a 3 day
rolling strike. Managers were sent in from around the country to scab
and deliver the registered mail, which if left undelivered would cost
Mail has brought in a new team of lawyers and they have hired a union
busting company to help them do their dirty work. They have been
heavy handed and targeted the stronger union offices like the Almeida
Street Delivery Office (NDO) where 106 postal workers are employed.
In July as a provocation, the usual ratio of about forty workers to
one manager was upped to a one to one ratio. Managers were sent from
other offices to implement the tactic called ‘man to man marking’.
This means every postal worker has a manager watching over his or her
every move and, if any mistakes are made, or procedure not followed
correctly, the worker can be suspended. This
was a tactic successfully used in the 1990s against the NW1 office,
the most militant office in London to break that union branch, known
as the ‘Martini Branch’ and the entire office was suspended and
In the last week in August
Royal Mail management pulled a typical stroke at offices in East
London. The collection drivers (the workers who collect mail from
post boxes etc.) were instructed to process (that is, to sort mail).
When they refused because it’s not their job, they were immediately
taken off pay. Management are continually goading the most advanced
sections of the workforce. They want to provoke isolated, spontaneous
walkouts and wear the communication workers down in that way. The
only way to cut across this is by united national action – soon".
leader’s response to the management action has so far been poor.
Workers have been left isolated fighting these attacks for months.
Now a ballot for industrial action has finally been called. A massive
‘yes’ vote is the only way to roll back the planned offensive on
the workers from Royal Mail management.
(Thanks to Greta for the pic!)