STRIKE IS SOLID! – ‘We need the rest of the public sector out’ – postal workers tell News Line

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Confident pickets at Finsbury Park office in Green Lanes yesterday morning
Confident pickets at Finsbury Park office in Green Lanes yesterday morning

YESTERDAY’s 24 hour strike of CWU postal workers was 100 per cent, and massively powerful. Everywhere pickets told News Line that what they wanted to see was action by the whole public sector to defeat the privatisation plans of the bosses and the government to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

On the picket line at the Greenford Royal Mail Centre in west London Kevin Domett said: ‘We’re 100 per cent here, No-one’s gone in.

‘We’ve heard they are laying on minibuses for scabs with blacked out windows from various stops around the district, but we haven’t seen any. Maybe it’ll be tonight but we’ll still be here. We’re here till 6am.’

Greenford CWU Deputy Early Rep Steve Jackson said: ‘Our offices are out 100 per cent. Even those offices that previously scabbed are out solid this time. Crozier and Leighton want to sell off and privatise Royal Mail.

‘It’s an attack on our jobs. They keep saying they’ve got no money, but if there’s no money why is Adam Crozier the top paid civil servant in the country?

‘They talk about modernisation, but what they mean is drastically changing people’s working lives. A normal working week is Monday to Friday, but they want us to work Tuesday to Saturday, messing up family life.

‘All public sector workers must be brought out together. We have to defend all our public services.’

Greenford Branch Secretary Geoff Loftus said: ‘They’re out solid across the region, leafleting stations. It’s buzzing and kicking.’

He added: ‘All the Royal Mail managers received a £3 grand plus bonus this week. Where’s our bonus? There’s nothing for us. All they’ve got for us is cuts in terms and conditions.’

Picket M M Shah said: ‘We are strong, solid and ready to escalate the action. Everybody should support us.’

At the South London Mail Centre in Nine Elms, Tam Merryweather told News Line: ‘Royal Mail is telling the press it’s over pay. It’s not just about pay – it’s about terms and conditions as well.

‘This is the strongest vote we have ever had. It shows the strength of feeling amongst CWU members.

‘The way to win is to get the public on our side. We are losing contracts because of Postcom. They set the prices so we can’t compete. It’s part of a political attack on the Post Office as a national service and possibly an attempt to privatise it.

‘An alliance of all public sector unions would be the way forward, as other services are under threat too.’

Steve Edhouse said: ‘It looks like a very solid strike. The business plan of Leighton and Crozier is made to fail. They have already given in to the competition.

‘They are saying we want a 27 per cent rise, but that is an aim of the union, to raise our pay by 27 per cent over a number of years. Royal Mail present it as if we are on strike today for 27 per cent more pay.

‘The management are acting like bully boys, using tactics of the worst kind.

‘The Post Office is a public service, not a business. It simply doesn’t work to try and run it like a business.’

At Luton in Bedfordshire Mick Purcell, Chairman of Luton Section Eastern No 6 Branch, told News Line:

‘Today is all about an assault on everything a postman earns and the way he does his job.

‘What Royal Mail Chief Executive Adam Crozier is doing is taking TNT as the industry model.

‘We do 95 per cent of the work and they are expecting us to earn what TNT earn, which is nothing like our wages. The inflation rate is 4.8 per cent. The national average wage is £395 per week. Our wages are £323 a week – 2.5 per cent is a cut.

‘On top of that Royal Mail wants us to cover sick leave and annual leave for nothing.

‘They are looking to take away Saturdays so we have no overtime potential. Alan Leighton and Adam Crozier have made absolutely no attempt to negotiate with our national representatives.

‘77 per cent of the CWU membership think they are wrong after an official ballot and Leighton and Crozier are still not listening.

‘We’re determined to save our jobs and get a living wage for everybody without having to spend countless hours in this office making up the money.

‘We are also determined to keep the Royal Mail as a public service – that’s essential.’

CWU unit rep at Hampstead Delivery Office, north London, John Cotier, said: ‘We’re out because of Mr Leighton’s and Mr Crozier’s proposals to destroy the Post Office.

‘They’ve had a failed attempt to privatise it and now their proposals would destroy it.

‘We are determined to fight off their proposals and keep Royal Mail as a public service.

‘Hampstead Delivery Office has had cuts and cuts. From 97 walks in 2003 we’ve been reduced to 59.

‘Currently under “efficiency” walks are being reduced by a further six duties every year. With these new proposals there would be a further increase in job cuts.

‘We are prepared to fight this to the end. We have to defend our jobs and get a pay rise without strings that would decimate the postal delivery service.’

At Wood Green Sorting Office Andy Purton said: ‘I signed for a walk when we went to one-a-day delivery. Obviously, I wanted to keep the core of my walk and I signed for it even though I knew it wasn’t going to work.

‘I struggled with it for three years. It was constant pressure. Everything kept changing.

‘I had a harassment case as a direct result of the walk problem.’

Area Rep Mark Dolan said: ‘This is the start of a long dispute. People have spoken about comparing it with the miners strike. The way forward is joint action with other unions, the PCS and UNISON for example.’

‘We have to nail the lie that we are asking for 27 per cent pay increase. We are not.

‘The bonuses these managers get are an insult. They are deliberately destroying this industry.’

At Hornsey Road in north London, Dave Wannell said: ‘No-one’s going in. We’ve been out since 5am and we’ve only seen management.

‘We’ve got to stay together as we are and understand it’s not a one day thing. It might take a long time.

‘Definitely we have to call out other sections because it’s not just us, it should be a public sector alliance.’

CWU Rep Jim Burn said: ‘We are worried about our jobs. I’ve worked here 18 years. This is a public service and they want to make it for profit.’

At Green Lanes Sorting Office in Haringey, CWU rep Andrew Vadachell said: ‘We’ve got a good turn out. People who didn’t even join I’ve worked in public services for 25 years. We have to keep the public services. We should have a public sector alliance.

‘Brown’s just the same as Blair, he just doesn’t have the charisma. The CWU shouldn’t be funding the Labour Party.’

Kenny Bryan said: ‘We need the rest of the public sector out – firefighters, teachers, nurses, they’re all getting wrong treatment from the government.

‘As a collective we can change things.’

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