ROYAL Mail staff across the whole of the London postal area walked out on strike again yesterday.
It was the latest action in the capital against what members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) describe as ‘bully-boy tactics’ by Royal Mail to destroy their jobs and working conditions.
Many CWU members were unhappy to hear that the ballot for a national strike across Royal Mail has been postponed for a week by CWU leaders.
Pickets were out at the SE1 and SE16 delivery offices in Southwark, south-east London.
Gary Steward, SE1 CWU rep told News Line: ‘One of our London District Committee reps came down yesterday and said for the first time since the dispute started the correct people were sitting round the table.
‘They’re not expecting miracles, no doubt Royal Mail will still be telling the union what they’re going to do.’
He added: ‘I’ve heard that to make the £20 billion savings the government wants, consultants are discussing plans to sack 10 per cent of staff in the NHS.
‘At Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, they’ve already closed the A&E at 8.00pm at night until 8.00am in the morning and they’re making the excuse they can’t get enough staff.
‘And how many unemployed are there?!
‘Under this government apprenticeship scheme, we’ve been told Royal Mail are going to take 300 apprenticeships on.
‘We’re being used as a political football.
‘They’re trying to shove as many staff out as they can and yet they’re saying they’re going to bring apprentices in.
‘We’re not going to stand for bringing apprentices in replacing meaningful full-time jobs and using youth as cheap labour.
‘This dispute is going to take off.
‘Our revision begins next week.
‘We’re angry with our union’s executive council, because they’ve taken so long to organise national action.’
‘We’ve got a message from here, post early for Christmas!’ Greenford Mail Centre CWU member Tim Rouse said yesterday.
The 1,300 Greenford postal workers were out on 24-hour strike from 5.45am yesterday to 5.45 this morning, their first action in the current round of strikes.
‘And we’re definitely keeping it going till then, definitely, and there’ll be no letting them off the hook this time.
‘We had them in this position two years ago; we had them on the run and then the action was called off and now that has come back to haunt us.
‘We are looking forward to national action. Greenford coming out has plugged a gap. We handle more work here than the offices in London now.
‘There are more than 1,300 working here and there is one solitary scab, today. We’ve been waiting a long time to come out at Greenford, chafing at the bit to get involved.
‘Local management were shocked when we voted to come out. They ran a big campaign to get a no vote but there are numerous issues at Greenford, duty losses, conditions driven down for the worse and the re-allocation of shifts with no agreement.’
CWU member Kana Udeagbala added, ‘We are all one. We have to fight for our rights. If they are not listening then we have to unite together and make it stronger.
‘That is what the union is for.’
Greenford Mail Centre Area Processing Rep Geoff Loftus said, ‘I’m pleased we’re out at last to support our colleagues the length and breadth of the country.
‘No one in the CWU believes the ideology of the Royal Mail management at this time.
‘This struggle is all about kicking the union out of Royal Mail but the union will not go away.’
There was also a determined picket line at the SE15 delivery office in Peckham.
CWU SE15 rep Billy Colvill told News Line: ‘I was very disturbed to hear that the ballot’s been put back for a week.
‘We’ve been told it’s on legal grounds. I just find it very worrying.
‘I think, whether you put it back a week or not, Royal Mail has every intention of challenging the ballot in the courts, and, if that’s the case, the union leadership will have to make its mind up to defy the law.
‘But in any event, we must proceed with the national ballot.
‘The struggle we’re facing is getting more and more serious and Royal Mail are getting more and more desperate to break the union.
‘We’re lobbying the Unite union today and I’d call for that section which represents the managers to be expelled for crossing picket lines.
‘I think that our strike is developing into a question for the whole trade union movement.
‘We need the support of other unions now, it’s the only way we can defend our members against the attacks from Royal Mail and the government.
‘Hayes and Ward need to get off the fence over the question of the government and start calling on other unions to support us.’
Peckham CWU member Tony Billings said: ‘I’m disappointed in the union as a whole.
‘What Royal Mail are getting up to, I’m surprised the union are not dragging them through the courts.
‘The public should be made aware of what’s going on, what the strikes are about.
‘It’s not about money, it’s about the bullying, harassment and casualisation of the job and they’re going back on agreements we had.
‘It’s not modernisation, it’s cutbacks.’
In north London, Eamonn Slevin, CWU Unit Rep at NW1 delivery office, Euston, told News Line on the picket line: ‘What our leaders Billy Hayes and Dave Ward have to realise is that we are losing the faith of the membership.
‘They need to pack up the infighting, get the national ballot on the road and resolve this dispute.’
CWU member John interjected: ‘Billy Hayes has to choose between the Labour Party and the union. Harold Wilson is no longer prime minister.’
Eamonn continued: ‘We need to see other public sector unions out with us to fight all these cuts and privatisation.
‘If we all went out the government would have to sit down and negotiate.’
Meanwhile, at Hampstead Delivery Office Julian Briottet, a CWU member, said: ‘Our fight is ongoing.
‘I don’t see anything changing in the near future.
‘We are just having to carry on.
‘The management are getting more and more aggressive and using bullying tactics to try and oppress the workers and make the decent ones leave.
‘There is now a new directive to get people to work longer than their contracted hours for no extra money.
‘And because the workload has increased so much recently, it means the general public are not getting their mail on time or even on the day.
‘Royal Mail needs to realise it’s got a good workforce that does a good job.
‘It shouldn’t be just about profit.
‘Royal Mail made a profit this year, yet they are still cutting – the reason being is their ultimate aim is to sell it off.
‘I’m all for the unions coming together to fight this privatisation.
‘And not just in this country, but in Europe, the whole of the EU is privatising.’
John Taylor, Deputy Unit Rep, said: ‘The struggle has to go on, especially now as Royal Mail has issued the new unagreed standards for all staff to follow.
‘They are demanding that we work over our time for no extra pay, work at a rate of 100 BSI, i.e. working continuously without a break.
‘Anyone who doesn’t comply with these standards will have three warnings, then they are off pay. They are trying to break the workforce.
‘They are trying to get their way before the strike goes national.
‘And our leaders are not helping us by delaying the national ballot.
‘But this is one fight Royal Mail will not win, even with good backing.
‘People are angrier now about the bully-boy tactics.
‘We have people on the picket line who have never been on one before.’
Another picket at Hampstead, Sam, said: ‘Adam Crozier has got a big pension pot, yet there is no money for the rest of us.
‘It’s one law for him and another for us. It’s disgusting.
‘He should be taking a pay cut, not us.
‘Personally, I think why don’t they let the union run the company.
‘Royal Mail has always made money, but now it’s suffering because of bad investment.
‘They paid £80 million for the Dutch Post Office and sold it back for £1, and Consignia wasted a lot of money too.
‘It’s bad management’s policies that cost money and the postmen get the blame.
‘I’m for the national strike. No one can afford to go on strike, but you have to take a stand.
‘The problem is there are some in our leadership who are detached from the postmen’s reality.’
On the picket line at Nine Elms in south-west London, Steve Parnell, SW1 Drivers’ Rep, and Patrick Paryag, SW1 Unit Rep, spoke to News Line.
They said: ‘They want to go to five-day working from four days on September 28, with the loss of about 40 jobs.
‘The agreement for four-day working was brought in in 2007 to help keep more jobs.
‘Royal Mail are not keeping the industrial relations agreements and are taking executive action to implement changes.
‘They are doing this all over south-west London, starting at Streatham Office in SW16 on the 7th.
Others are starting on the 14th and our office on the 28th.
‘This national action really needs to go ahead. It’s taking far too long.’
At the Notting Hill Delivery Office in west London, Westbourne Grove CWU rep Rogelio Loureda condemned Royal Mail management for the continuing attack on conditions and the quality of service.
‘The service to the public has not improved and it was not the second delivery which was lost, it was the first, because everyone is getting their mail later.’
At Cricklewood, the CWU rep Geoff said: ‘The continuing bullying and harassment of our members is deplorable.
‘If this was a Third World country, the government would be condemning the kind of action that is taking place against trade unionists, and yet the government is supporting Royal Mail’s actions against working-class people.’
Chris Keen, CWU E1 delivery office rep in Whitechapel, said on the picket line: ‘There’s more offices coming out every strike, and we need the national ballot big time.
‘We need management to let us do our jobs and stop imposing changes on us.
‘They should have gone for the national ballot sooner rather than later.
‘At this office they are putting more and more work onto us.
‘They are attacking our senior men.
‘People who have been in the job for 30 years, they are taking them off their duties and moving them around the office.
‘They have been giving them different duties.
‘Every part of the postal CWU should come out and vote “yes’’ for strike action.’