COVENTRY postal workers are preparing for strike action to defend their jobs and their mail centre, a leading CWU officer said yesterday.
Royal Mail is planning to close the Bishop Street office in the spring, threatening his members’ jobs and the service they provide to the 12th largest city in Britain, Coventry CWU Branch Chairman Mick Kavanagh, told News Line.
He said the 600 workers in the Coventry sorting office are being ‘treated with contempt’.
Kavanagh said: ‘What’s happening is that about 18 months ago Royal Mail said that they were looking to close the Mail Centre in Coventry and move it to a new centre in Northampton.
‘The effect of that would be between four and five hundred job losses in Coventry.
‘We’ve had a rally and between 18-20,000 people have signed a petition to maintain a Mail Centre in Coventry and we have also put forward different options which Royal Mail has refused to accept.
‘We feel from a union point of view that they are treating our members with contempt.
‘Quite clearly from our side of it they are leaving us with no alternative but to consult our members over the next few weeks through a ballot for strike action to maintain their terms, conditions and their jobs.
‘Over the next few weeks Royal Mail will be coming forward to say that they want to move to Northampton.
‘They are not listening to the public and they are not listening to the union, so we will have no alternative but to fight for our terms, conditions and jobs.
‘Northampton is 36 or 40 miles away, so it’s a massive distance for people to travel.
‘Strike action will be a last resort but they are pushing us into that position.
‘Our members are getting the impression that they are just paying lip service to consultation and the terms of the national agreement surrounding closures of mail centres and the movement of work.
‘What we are talking about is the city of Coventry, the 12th biggest city in the country, whose postal service would be absolutely destroyed.
‘We’ve just lost a Crown Office in Hertford Street, where there was a massive campaign to keep it open, but they didn’t listen.
‘And now they aim to close the Mail Centre in Coventry and all that Coventry will have left will be the delivery service and it’s not acceptable.
‘On top of the amount of job losses in Coventry with Jaguar, Peugeot closing, somebody needs to look at what’s going on here.’
• The CWU warned yesterday that postal services in Britain are under threat from underinvestment and poor management decisions, as Post Office Ltd’s consultation and government action are exposed as inadequate.
Andy Furey, CWU national official, said: ‘There is no evidence of communities anywhere in the country supporting closing or franchising of Post Offices.
‘The closure and franchising programme has led to an abuse of public funds as staff have been offered tempting severance packages, but the reality is that WHSmith don’t want to pay for our members.
‘Franchising undermines the sustainability of the network by placing public service provision in the hands of private businesses.
‘If WHSmith were to go bust there is no guarantee that the 70 franchises it has taken on would remain.’