‘NO HIDING PLACE NOW!’ – ‘We need the rest of the country out’ say Postal workers

Striking CWU members in Hampstead, north west London, were in fighting mood yesterday
Striking CWU members in Hampstead, north west London, were in fighting mood yesterday

POSTAL workers were out on strike throughout London yesterday, while Royal Mail drivers were also out in Essex and the Midlands; and Stoke on Trent postal workers were continuing with their indefinite strike action.

Pickets at Southwark, south London, Delivery Office were determined to fight against the casualisation of the Royal Mail.

Gary Steward, CWU SE1 rep, told News Line: ‘We are fighting for our lives now, for our jobs and our pay and conditions. Everything we’ve fought for over the last 30 years is all going out of the window. You came into a reasonable job, but everything we’ve got now we’ve had to fight for. Now they want to come along and rip it all away.’

He added: ‘A number of our members have been sacked at the SE16 office and we are appealing for their reinstatement. We believe there is a policy of “zero tolerance’’ against our members. We’ve got to take the fight on.’

At the picket line in Brockley’s SE4 delivery office, strikers were in equally defiant mood. CWU member Mark Jenkins said: ‘I think the way forward is we need to really stand together. Unions need to come out together in support of each other in the current crisis.’

SE4 CWU rep George Dickson said: ‘I think the way forward is for all the country to come out. There’s no hiding place for anyone now. London’s been taking strike action for six weeks now and we desperately need the rest of the country to come out with us.

‘Billy Hayes has been hiding for a long time and it’s about time he came out and supported us a bit more, especially in London. We don’t want our union leaders to go into talks and do deals that we don’t gain anything out of. We want reinstatement of people unfairly sacked and a good deal at work for our members over modernisation – not using modernisation to lose jobs for the sake of it.

‘I think there has to be a national strike, the sooner the better, I think we need the public sector to come out with us.’

In north west London, Hampstead Delivery Office CWU Unit rep John Cotier told News Line: ‘It now appears that in the north west London area, they have called a halt to any further revisions.

‘But they have appointed an area manager who is the most anti-union next to Adam Crozier you will ever meet.

‘When we crossed swords with him at Hampstead, he said “trade unions are a complete waste of space”, so it looks like industrial relations are set to fall further down the scale, if that is possible.

‘He has started his campaign by giving notice of cessation of all night operations in the London area by 7th September. This is a further disastrous move that will lead to chaos.’

He added: ‘We’re looking forward to the national strike. But we can do without Billy Hayes sabre-rattling on behalf of Royal Mail as he was on the radio yesterday. He should be more interested in the damage Royal Mail is doing to his members.’

CWU member Terry Bailey added: ‘The strike has to go national, it’s the only way forward.

‘Billy Hayes was wrong to offer to cease the action in return for talks. I don’t think Royal Mail wants to talk. They just want to crush the union.

‘The action has to go national, and not be called off, until we get a resolution that suits us.

‘All the public sector workers are on a pay freeze now, they should all be brought out.’

Strikers in East London also said a national strike is necessary to win.

At E1 Delivery Office CWU East London branch political officer Lee Walker said: ‘Members are solid about the strike and are clearer on the issues, not only at our branch but across London.

‘Management wish to bring in unagreed changes to working practices, adding more and more work onto fewer and fewer staff.

‘What is happening is the beginning of things to come. Royal Mail want us to do a load of extra work for no extra pay and cut jobs.’

At the Stoke Newington office in N16 the picket was absolutely firm and well fed as tandoori chicken was barbecued!

Joe Donnellan rep for N16 told News Line: ‘I totally support the indefinite Stoke-on-Trent strike 100 per cent. I hope they hold on to everything that they have got and have success in their action.

‘When Dave Ward became deputy of the CWU we expected a much more hard-line approach. It seems like things have been allowed to drag on. We have had the pension issue and that has not been settled, the pay freeze and now the cuts on top of that!

‘People are willing to fight. They will walk if they are asked, give us the call and we are out! The longer it takes for a national strike, the more cuts Royal Mail will make and the harder it will be to get our hours, jobs and duty structure back.’

Pickets were out in force at Tottenham Lane Delivery Office. A picket who didn’t want to be identified said: ‘They’re asking ten people in the office to “absorb work” which means ten people taking a walk out before their actual delivery for no extra money and then coming back from that walk to do their own duty.’

At Haringey’s N15/N4 Office, shop stewards Frank Smith (N15) and Andy Vadachellum (N4) were enjoying the sunshine and discussing the shock news about CWU leader Billy Hayes’ latest offer to call off the strike for ‘last-minute’ talks. He can sign it on behalf of the members, he’s elected through the branches but the comeback is he couldn’t ever face his members again – he’d have to do a runner!’ said Andy.

‘We’ve come to the end of the quiet summer months,’ observed Frank, ‘This time around national action will coincide with the busiest time of the year!’

At Hammersmith W6 picket line Steve Armstrong told News Line: ‘We are sick and tired of Royal Mail trying to force their modernisation plans on us. The national ballot should have taken place months ago. The earlliest national strike action after the close of the ballot will be the beginning of October. The national leadership is a joke. In my opinion Billy Hayes wants to be an MP.

‘You don’t hear a word from the national leadership. They are going the same way as former CWU leader Alan Johnson who is in government.

‘We need to come out together. It is no good different areas coming out at different times. We need to shut down Royal Mail. We are causing problems with our current strikes but it is not enough.’

There was a strong picket of nineteen CWU members at Acton Delivery Office in Bollo Lane W3. CWU rep Mitchell Morris said: ‘We can’t accept management bullying and intimidation. We are striking to secure jobs for our future and to force Royal Mail management to sit down and negotiate with the union executive.

‘Adam Crozier is the driving force to privatise Royal Mail with the support of Peter Mandelson. They are not interested in the qualityof the service; they just want to make more profits.’