LONDON delivery offices took all-out strike action yesterday in the ongoing battle by postal workers to defend jobs in Royal Mail.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is now in the middle of balloting members across the country for a national strike.
On the picket line at the Southwark Delivery Office in south-east London yesterday morning, CWU SE1 rep Tige Cobankaya told News Line: ‘Not much has changed. We shouldn’t have had to wait this long for the national ballot to go ahead.
‘A lot of offices are willing to up the ante.
‘Apparently there were about 20 managers in our office this week just to do parcels.
‘Our action is starting to have a massive effect.
‘We definitely need a national strike.’
Billy Colvill, CWU SE15 rep, said on the picket line in Peckham: ‘Yesterday, we had a colleague sacked because he couldn’t finish his duty.
‘We have six colleagues who are having their contracts reduced to 25 hours, when Royal Mail have publicly stated that no one will be forced to reduce their contracts.
‘Royal Mail have crossed the line in their treatment of their workforce, who are absolutely determined to keep up our action until we get justice and fair treatment.’
He added: ‘I personally am disgusted at the activities of Unite members – i.e. managers – who are crossing picket lines and persecuting our members.
‘I’d also like to say that this isn’t a London dispute and urge every CWU member to vote “yes’’ in the national ballot, because first it will be us and then it will be you.
‘I’d also like to request as a CWU member and rep that our union leaders, Hayes and Ward, stop repeating a mantra that they’ll call the strikes off, and instead call on the rest of the trade union movement to defend us in our struggle.’
Peckham CWU member Peter Asagba said: ‘It’s nasty. One has to do much more work than is humanly possible for one person in a day.
‘If there are more job cuts, customers will suffer.
‘You can’t afford job cuts, especially in Peckham.
‘If you have job cuts, who is going to do the mail delivery?’
At Brockley office, another CWU member Bill Tolman said: ‘There’s got to be a fight to defend our jobs in Royal Mail. The whole country needs to come out.’
He added: ‘I think there should be a public sector alliance of the unions to defend jobs.’
‘I say to Royal Mail – bring it on, CWU Unit Rep Patrick Paryag declared at the Nine Elms delivery office in south-west London (SW1).
He added: ‘We should get all of the unions together for a general strike.’
He continued: ‘On Monday they are going to implement changes, going from four to five days, 6.00am-2.00pm, which gives us a “surplus’’ of 46 people who won’t have a job.
‘Some of them have been given duties to cover annual leave.
‘About 20 have had their attendance time changed to 8.00am to 4.00pm with no consideration for people’s commitments, such as children and school.
‘Seven have been put on nights, midnight-08.00.
‘They are messing up people’s lives. This is all done without negotiation – executive action.’
At the picket line outside Hanwell Delivery Office in west London, CWU member Dean Davis told News Line: ‘We want all-out action.’
Ernest Betts added: ‘What’s needed is for everyone to come out on strike altogether, not just postal workers but everyone – the binmen, teachers – it affects everyone.’
Bill Davey, another CWU member at Hanwell, said: ‘We’ve just voted to stop paying money into the Labour Party and we are going to lay siege to the Labour Party conference in Brighton next Tuesday.’
West London Postal Branch chair Fred Barnfield said: ‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
‘The results of the ballot are at the end of this month.
‘I’m looking forward to all-out action.’
At Acton Delivery Office, CWU Unit Rep Mitch Mitchell said: ‘Pressure is on the top management.
‘The national ballot is underway and I think the result will be a resounding “yes’’.’
At the Willesden Delivery Office in north-west London, striking CWU member James Wood commented: ‘The way we are being treated is disgusting.’
At Cricklewood office, CWU rep Geoff said: ‘The ballot was long overdue. Our leaders seem to be leaving us to fight on our own.
‘Management bullying and harassment is going on because they want to introduce cuts in the service.’
‘We’re being victimised,’ claimed CWU rep Eray Hassam, speaking on the picket line at Southgate in north London.
He said that ‘They’re telling us to take down personal photos, family and children.
‘They’ve given us one week to take them down. It’s to get a rise out of us, but it’s not working.
‘We’ve got a memorial photo of a colleague who died and that’s got to come down.’
At the picket outside the Haringey office, CWU rep Frank said that the union should have stopped funding Labour in 1996, when Blair took over the leadership ‘and we came out on strike’.
He added that from 1996 until now ‘we’ve had no help from Labour’.
At the N6 office in Hornsey, CWU rep Jim said: ‘The strike is solid at N6 and N19.
‘The backlog is out of control. We’re waiting for the national ballot.’
He added: ‘They’re panicking due to the amount of work.
‘They were expecting the dispute to fizzle out.
‘People can see the results of the strike now.
‘People are not absorbing work now, because of cuts in duties.’