‘WE’VE DEFINITELY GOT TO GO NATIONAL’ – London CWU pickets tell News Line

‘Struggle is strengthening’ said CWU pickets at Hampstead Delivery Office
‘Struggle is strengthening’ said CWU pickets at Hampstead Delivery Office

PICKETS were out at Hornsey Road sorting office in north London yesterday, as angry Royal Mail workers across the capital and in many towns and cities up and down Britain took strike action.

Jim Byrne, CWU rep, spoke to News Line on the picket line in Hornsey and said: ‘It’s definitely got to go national, because managers are coming down from everywhere to do the postmen’s jobs. If we don’t go national, it won’t work.

‘There were 80 managers in N1 on Monday and they still couldn’t complete their delivery.’

Brian Westley, CWU N19 rep, said: ‘Everyone should come out and support us.

‘There should be a public sector alliance and Brown and Mandelson should go and Mr Crozier should get off the beach.’

At the N7 office in Islington, striker Adam Thompson said: ‘We don’t see the point of coming out on Saturday because most of the firms are shut on Saturday and it’s a waste of time.’

Lee Ranger said: ‘One day strike action doesn’t work. We should go out on full strike and stop giving the government money.

‘Brown wasn’t voted in, he shouldn’t be prime minister, and Mandelson makes the decisions and he’s been kicked out of parliament twice.

‘We’re losing £90 a week and this action isn’t working.

‘The unions should break from the Labour Party, Brown’s ripping this country apart and the kids are going to have to pay for this.’

Gary Steward, SE1 rep, said on the picket line at the Southwark Delivery Office: ‘The situation hasn’t changed, not at all, except Royal Mail is upping the ante in our office, imposing things on us.’

A CWU circular said: ‘Today 14th July your local CWU representative has been informed by management that they intend within the next week to instruct our members to do outdoor absorption.’

The union warned that workers could be ‘put on reserve to be moved anywhere and to any office’, if the attacks on the established terms and conditions succeed.

The circular warned this was part of the drive towards a ‘part-time’ workforce.

Steward said: ‘They are getting the big stick out – but more and more offices are coming on board all the time and we expect over 2,000 people to join our march today.

‘I think there needs to be a united action of the whole country. I think it’s time everybody stood up and be counted.’

Billy Colvill, CWU SE15 rep, warned on the picket line in Peckham that ‘a fundamental attack on the rights of our union’ was taking place.

He added: ‘We’re in a position now where offices are balloting up and down the country and I think it’s time we started calling for national action.

‘The fact of the matter is our leadership offered Royal Mail talks and Royal Mail have deliberately walked away from it.

‘I think the way to win our dispute is to join with other public sector workers who are in the same position as us and to form a public sector alliance.

‘Quite clearly this government could call off Royal Mail’s attacks on our jobs and conditions, but they’re not doing that.

‘That’s why we need a public sector alliance to defend our jobs against this government.’

There was a lively early morning picket at Hampstead Delivery Office, north-west London.

CWU unit rep John Cotier told News Line: ‘More people are joining in the strike.

‘Our struggle is strengthening.

‘More offices across the country are applying for strike ballots every day.

‘Our members are a lot stronger now because of the bully boy tactics that Royal Mail managers are adopting.

‘In Hampstead, they drafted in two of the biggest managers they probably employ, to try to harass our staff.

‘We will not succumb to these draconian tactics.

‘In fact, many years ago when these tactics were adopted by Royal Mail, all it did was make us much stronger.

‘Royal Mail gave an assurance that these types of tactics would never be used again.

‘It would appear that there is some motive behind the re-introduction of these tactics to force us into unofficial industrial action. This won’t work.’

Cotier added: ‘I’ve written to Gordon Brown and our local MP Glenda Jackson raising the issue of the draconian tactics of Royal Mail and also five young lads that have been given notice of cessation of their contracts on August 1st.

‘Brown pledged that he “will stand by you and your family”.

‘I ask is he going to be true to his word.

‘He writes personal letters to people he knows have a voice in the union, and does the opposite.

‘We need national action, we’ve got to force the issue.

‘We have solidarity in our membership, we need the same solidarity in our leadership.’

CWU member Tommy Webb said: ‘It’s terrible. Royal Mail doesn’t want to talk to us.

‘They just want to bulldoze everything in.

‘They want to by-pass the union and steamroller everything in.

‘They don’t care about the quality of service.

‘In my opinion, they are just fattening us up to sell us off.

‘If they are losing money, why are people looking to buy us?

‘The government have postponed the sell-off because of our opposition.

‘They know there are 160,000 post workers who won’t vote for them if they go ahead with privatisation.

‘People are concerned about losing their jobs.

‘I’ve been here 21 years and I’ve never known morale so low.

‘People who make the decisions have never been postmen.

‘The union are doing everything by the book, standing their ground.

‘It’s not about the money, we are looking to defend our working conditions and the quality of the service.

‘We had a guarantee from our managers that no one would leave the office that didn’t want to – then they sacked seven people.

‘This is the big one now. We’ve had many strikes over the years but I’ve never seen so many people ready for the fight.

‘When I started here, we had 108 walks. We have 57 now and they want to take another 27 off us.’

Mount Pleasant CWU branch newsletter editor, Derrick Francis told News Line: ‘In this office they want to make £5.7 million savings.

‘This is not realistic. It equates to 250 job cuts. That is a concern to me.

‘When we asked them, “What are you doing with these 250 people?”, management had no answer.

‘There is a strong possibility of compulsory transfers.

‘They could transfer people to a local delivery office or even compulsory redundancies is another option. This is unacceptable.

‘We are faced with unrealistic targets. People face being made to work harder and there would be no recompense in terms of pay and bonuses.

‘We’d get no share in the £5.7 million savings while managers would get a 10 per cent bonus.

‘This is a fight we can’t afford to lose, we have to take a stand. The line must be drawn here.

‘To win, we need a national strike in my opinion, that’s the only way we can bring this to a head.

‘The private sector messed up and now the public sector is paying the price.’

Mount Pleasant CWU Assistant Branch Secretary Lloyd Harris said: ‘We have another magnificent turnout today. No one has gone through the gates.

‘I’m hoping this pattern continues throughout the whole day.

‘The main issues are terms and conditions, jobs and the future of the industry.

‘You can’t run a public service with so many job cuts, it’s ridiculous.

‘All Royal Mail is concerned about is making big profits and they are running down the service.

‘We hope with everyone remaining solid, it will force the issue and management will see sense.

‘We have to win this dispute or they will come for more jobs time after time.’

At Rathbone Place delivery office in London’s West End, CWU Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward was on the picket line.

He told News Line: ‘We are at a point where the company still keeps taking executive action, still keeps imposing changes, breaking the agreements we made in 2007.

‘They’ve rejected our offer of a three-month no-strike deal.

‘We really have no alternative other than to keep escalating the action.’

Rathbone Place CWU delivery rep, Allen Jones, added: ‘The strike is going very well. We’re here to the end, unless we get the results we want: revisions based on seniority, protection of our terms and conditions, and decent pay.

‘The company is cutting jobs left, right and centre. This has to be stopped. We have to win this strike.

‘All Royal Mail workers have to stick together.

‘What’s happening affects the whole country. We are here till we win.’

At the picket line outside Hammersmith delivery office in west London, ‘Peggy’ told News Line: ‘We haven’t got a single scab here and in the 28 years I’ve worked at this place we’ve never had one.

‘There are approximately 60 working here. We used to have over 80.

‘But in the past 10 years it’s been gradually eroded.

‘They are talking about us losing four, but that’s just a start.’

Steve Armstrong said: ‘Thirteen years ago we were on strike against privatisation of the Post Office and at that time the Labour Party was with us. That was then.

‘Now it’s the Labour Party trying to privatise. It’s a betrayal.

‘A general strike is going to happen.

‘It may be sooner or it may be later, but it’s going to happen.

‘You can only push people so far before they lash out.’

Steve Howard added: ‘We need another Oliver Cromwell.

‘We need to get rid of the government.

‘The Labour Party doesn’t speak for the working man any more.’

At the W10 delivery office in Shepherds Bush, CWU rep Mick Kiely said: ‘We need to step up our union action because management are implementing duty changes in Hanwell and Ealing.

‘A number of duties are to be cut from next Monday and postal workers are expected to cover them.

‘Our idea of modernisation is bringing in new machinery, their idea is to cut jobs.

‘I was at last Wednesday’s meeting and was told that a judge would decide whether the strike would be legal and a number of speakers said it doesn’t matter what the judge says because they would be out anyway.’

At the W14 delivery office at Olympia, CWU rep Boz told News Line that every day more and more ballots for industrial action were being handed in.

‘The issue is definitely the service, jobs, pensions, everything really.

‘Managers in our office this year got thousands of pounds in bonuses due to us working harder as a result of eight duties being lost last year.

‘Now they want us to lose another three duties.

‘On July 27 at this office, management will introduce “outdoor absorption’’, meaning as well as our members doing their own walks they will be taking out parts of other deliveries due to the fact we haven’t got the staff.

‘Yet when a manager is missing it is a: not noticed, b: another one is brought in.’

Mitch Mitchell, CWU rep at Acton, said: ‘We want to see everyone act nationally.

‘Royal Mail is using the recession to browbeat their plans through, basically saying if you don’t like it there is no job for you.

‘Workers are being used to bail out the banks when the public sector cannot sustain any more cuts.

‘A public sector alliance is a great idea and we should all have a mass demonstration on Downing Street and we should not be funding the Labour Party because of what they have done to our jobs.’

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