Postal workers were yesterday left confused and angry after the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Postal Executive called off strikes at five mail centres late on Thursday.
A CWU spokeswoman said it had been a unanimous decision.
CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said in a press statement late Thursday: ‘We are calling off the strikes today as some progress has been made justifying the continuation of more meaningful discussions.
‘But of course, the government’s announcement to privatise Royal Mail now means the stakes are even higher.
‘This is no longer a local or regional dispute. What we face is the prospect of losing a much loved British institution.
‘We want the public to join with us in a nationwide campaign to defend a vital public service.’
Strike action was due to take place in Bolton, Coventry, Crewe, Oxford and Stockport for 24 hours yesterday.
‘It’s a betrayal,’ said CWU South Central No1 branch HP section chairman Rob Bolton.
He warned: ‘Calling off the strikes is a gift to Royal Mail.
‘Management are not going to reverse their programme of Mail Centre closures, unless they are forced to do so.
‘We have seen how the government has used the Hooper review as a green light to accelerate the closure of mail centres and delivery offices in the name of modernisation.
‘Calling off strike action is a betrayal of our campaign in defence of jobs and pensions. Every job and every mail centre must be defended.
‘Our members want to defend their jobs and will do so. They do not want their jobs to be sold away by the union leadership for a few empty promises.’
Eastern Region No.6 branch secretary Paul Olden said: ‘This is not the time to call off strikes.
‘It should have been a national strike in the first place.
‘The government’s part-privatisation announcement, we can only surmise, comes as a result of a deal between (business secretary) Mandelson, the government and TNT.
‘It’s not the first time our leaders have done an about face at the last minute.
‘We’ve now got to go back and reballot as a result.
‘Conference mandate was to ballot for a national strike.
‘This is a way out for Dave Ward. He’s used the Hooper review as an excuse.’
CWU North West regional secretary Carl Webb told News Line: ‘Because the strike was pulled at the last minute, people have been confused and apprehensive.
‘You’re talking about their future and their families’ future. Some feel let down.’
He concluded: ‘There should be a national strategy, Royal Mail are selecting sites one at a time.
‘It’s not modernisation, it’s just cuts.
‘We’ve asked for a special conference on mail centre closures and the future of Royal Mail.’