‘OUR LEADERS MUST LEAD’ – demand London postal workers

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A strong and confident picket line at the Brockley Delivery Office yesterday morning
A strong and confident picket line at the Brockley Delivery Office yesterday morning

LONDON postal workers took 24-hour strike action yesterday, with pickets across the capital demanding that the action is stepped up and that the union unites with the rest of the public sector.

At Hampstead Delivery Office in north-west London, CWU Unit Rep John Cotier said: ‘It now appears that the pressure on our leadership has become embarrassing as they have sanctioned a call for a national ballot.

‘They should now withdraw from their ballot-delaying tactics and climb from under the duvet with government and get back into bed with the membership.

‘We have been suffering at all local London offices, whilst the leadership have been playing politics.

‘We have and are still being inflicted with the new style Royal Mail “consultation’’ procedures.

‘Large numbers of bully-boy managers have been sent in to intimidate and bully our staff into their way of working – like robots.’

He added: At Hampstead Delivery Office on Tuesday August 4, we walked into the biggest review since single day deliveries in 2003.

‘It resulted in mail not leaving the office for three days, special delivery items delivered by managers delivered to wrong addresses, whole walks of mail being found in trolleys from the previous day – left by agency staff – and half pouches of mail left all over the place by managers shipped in from all over the country.

‘Companies that get their deliveries at 11.00am at the latest, received their mail at 2.00pm – three hours late.

‘One woman who lives 100 yards from the office came in to collect her mail, which was three days late.

‘These cuts are all in the name of modernisation and better quality of service, when in fact they are for big bonuses for the fat cats and to the total detriment of the postal service.’

John Taylor, CWU deputy-unit rep at Hampstead, said: ‘They changed all our hours last week. We work later now on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and Saturdays.

‘As a result of this, they can’t now do the collections on time because the vans are still being used by delivery staff.

‘So management went out and hired vans for the Monday on the day we finished early. They sat there unused.

‘They want to cut our hours and conditions yet they totally waste money on useless exercises like this.

‘And the changes in hours at Cricklewood has seen managers sending our members to cover there, despite leaving this office short of staff and letting our customers down.’

Pickets were out in force at the Stoke Newington N16 sorting office.

A barbecue was lit and they were in high spirits.

Joe Donnellan, CWU N16 rep, said: ‘The timetable for a national strike has been set. The ballot papers go out on the ninth and the results should be returned by the 23rd.

‘It’s important that every office gets involved.

‘When London joined in the office by office ballot, there were 120 offices out, now it’s around 500. So that proves people want a national ballot.

‘Managers are using the recession as an excuse to hit out at the public workforce.

‘Royal Mail has made the best profits in almost a quarter of a century, yet they say they can’t afford a pay rise and they embark on the biggest amount of cuts to jobs and services.

‘There should be a national day of action where the whole public sector unites under the same banner.

‘This is the sixth day of action so far and no one is working in our office.

‘The action is stronger than ever and people are more determined than ever.’

At the giant Mount Pleasant sorting office in central London, CWU rep Eric Johnson told News Line: ‘The strike should go national, the sooner the better.

‘The leadership should stop trying to warm their feet under the negotiating table when there’s a fight on.

‘Royal Mail is not backing off.

‘An all-out public sector action would be a help, but I don’t think the leadership wants that.’

At the NW1 delivery office, CWU member Anthony said: ‘We’re still fighting on jobs, pay and conditions.

‘We’re waiting for the ballot for a national strike in September.

‘Management are still going ahead with their plans without our cooperation.

‘I agree with a public sector alliance to defeat all the privatisation.

‘We should have had one when Thatcher was in charge, they should have brought all the unions out with the miners, they would have won if they had.’

In east London, Rob Armitage, CWU unit rep at the E1 delivery office, said: ‘The strike is going very well. It’s fully supported.

‘We’re pleased that a national ballot is going ahead and for a resolution from that.

‘Every office has had different issues, it’s not just about pay.

‘In our office we’ve got the walk absorption that they are trying to force on the staff.

‘Five people have to prepare the walks ready for delivery.

‘People don’t have enough time to do the job properly.’

George Dickson, CWU SE4 rep, speaking from yesterday’s well-manned picket at Brockley delivery office, said: ‘We are waiting for a national ballot in September where everyone in the CWU will come on board.

‘London can’t do it itself. We are getting the first cutbacks and bullying. They are trying to break London first. If they break London, they will destroy the union.’

He added: ‘Since they lost on the privatisation they have been very upset over that.

‘Privatisation has only been suspended until the election really.

‘We need to bring the whole country out, but for that to happen then CWU need to come all out.

‘We are 100 per cent here at Brockley and are very determined.

‘We’ve mentioned in the local office that (CWU General Secretary) Billy Hayes is hiding.

‘He’s got to be seen now. If the object is to break the union that is what this strike is about, to keep decent jobs and a good service.’

CWU member John Barker said: ‘It is alright striking from day to day, but it’s not enough.

‘We don’t deserve to be treated like animals. We serve the community but they don’t appreciate this.

So if we have to get spiteful, then we will.

‘I definitely agree that there should be a public sector all-out strike.’

Mark Jenkins said: ‘We want an all-out strike, same as they do in France, all the unions together in a general strike.’

At the nearby Peckham delivery office, CWU SE15 rep Billy Colvill said: ‘Royal Mail is acting like a mad dog.

‘The response of the members has been absolutely resolute.

‘They’ve tried to wear us down. This is our fifth day of strike action in as many weeks, but we’re solid.

‘Our leaders should face reality and start organising with other unions for united action, for a public sector workers’ alliance.

‘What we’re saying now is forward to the national ballot and for a full-out strike.’

Ade Adegoke, another CWU member from Peckham delivery office, said: ‘We are losing money here for one day, but my future is not going to benefit from these strikes – I say we should go all-out for a fight that is going to hit them hard at the busiest time of the year.

‘So we need to escalate the fight and get 100 per cent of the union to stop.

‘The heads of the union need to start communicating because there is no communication between the union and the top.

At the Southwark Delivery Office, CWU SE1 rep Gary Steward said: ‘It’s just pure intimidation against our members. They are continually pressuring people to work past their time.

‘We say you’re paid to work 40 hours a week. But our blokes are being brought up to the office for wilful delay, even though they’re going out on their duties an hour later than they should be.

‘This is what’s been happening in north, east and south London and I don’t doubt it will happen here eventually.

‘We’ve currently got 189 people in post here and they want to cut us down to 130.’

He added: ‘We’re pleased at last that finally the fight is going to be taken up by the whole country.

‘We are hoping for a resounding “yes’’ vote in the national ballot.’

CWU SE16 rep Dave Aldridge said: ‘Management are just bringing in executive actions.

‘They forced us to go on a four-day week and now this year they want us to revert to a five-day week, which means you lose 50-60 rest days.

‘But at the same time they want to keep the 10-hour walks, on an eight-hour duty.

‘I think we need other unions to coordinate action with us.

‘Let’s have an “all-out’’, both the private and public sector. Bring the country to a standstill.

‘They’re doing exactly the same to everyone that they’re doing to us.’

Steve Edhouse, CWU member at Nine Elms South London Mail Centre, told News Line on the picket line: ‘The prospects for a national strike are good.

‘It needs to go national. Royal Mail management are not taking us seriously.’

Over a dozen postal workers were maintaining a strong picket at the N7 mail centre off the Caledonian Road in Islington, north London, yesterday morning at 6.30am.

Lee Ranger said: ‘I think there should be a general strike because this isn’t working.

‘I think they’re trying to make us go out on wildcat strikes because it’s easier for them to deal with.

‘They can bus in managers from other areas with uncoordinated strikes.

‘The Royal Mail are boasting the current action isn’t hurting them, only delaying the post for a couple of days.

‘But they’re not that organised – they brought in posties from Tottenham and Edmonton to clear the backlog here but they didn’t have nearly enough time.

‘They’re treating us like dirt. New people on short-term contracts are bullied to go anywhere, do anything, because they’re frightened for their job.’

Alex Stewart said: ‘Hayes and Ward (CWU leaders) have had to call for a national strike to stop all these job cuts.

‘You can’t get blood out of a stone. They’re expecting us to work for nothing, can’t take a break – it’s getting to the point where we cannot go to the toilet!’

At the Hanwell office, West London Area Delivery Rep Paul McGuire said: ‘The ballot for national action has been called and I think it will be an overwhelming “yes’’ vote.

‘They’ve imposed unagreed revisions in at least 80 per cent of the offices in west London.

‘The contempt that management are showing staff is disgraceful.’

Hanwell CWU rep Mick Campion added: ‘They’ve imposed new duties with no consultation.

‘They called here to the office and said: “As of July 6, we are removing two walking duties”. They just think that they can do what they want. We have to stop them.’

At Ealing, CWU rep Fred Barnfield said: ‘It’s going to take a national strike.

‘The managers are side-stepping and virtually tearing up agreements. It’s like stepping back in time – landowners and serfs.

‘A lot of us are losing faith in the leadership of the CWU. It seems there is a hidden agenda.

‘Is Billy Hayes planning to go down the same path as the former General Secretary Alan Johnson? And why has it taken so long for the Postal Executive to call a national ballot?’

CWU member Bill Davies said: ‘We need to have a concerted action right across the board: the railways, the fire brigade, the health workers, the oil refinery workers, they’re all coming under attack.’

At Acton sorting office, CWU rep Mitch Mitchell said: ‘As regards to the national ballot, yes we would have liked it earlier.

‘But when the action starts, it will be solid.’

At nearby Chiswick sorting office, CWU rep Kevin said: ‘They run this now as a business to make multi-million-pound profits.’

Chiswick CWU member Stan said: ‘We want the CWU to reach an agreement to defend jobs.

‘They’ve got to reject modernisation utterly.

‘The CWU should take a leaf out of the RMT’s book and utterly and completely reject any notion of public-private partnerships.’

Joe Sheppard, the CWU rep at Shepherds Bush, said: ‘At the end of the day they are implementing their plans by executive action without agreement from the union.’

At West Kensington, CWU rep ‘Boz’ said: ‘There has been solid support for the strike so far and we hope there will be a big “yes’’ vote for national action.’

Because of management’s bullying tactics many new members have joined the union.’

Greg Charles, branch secretary at South Kensington, said: ‘Management are treating postal workers disgracefully.’

‘We need the full strength of the union mobilised to win.