BUSINESS Secretary Peter Mandelson yesterday afternoon attacked London postal workers in particular for not accepting the government and Royal Mail plans to casualise the industry.
He said that it would mean the end of the industry if postal workers did not accept what Royal Mail and the government wanted.
He told the House of Lords: ‘My Lords, the dispute at the Royal Mail is about modernisation which has been the subject of localised strikes, particularly in London, for many months.’
He added: ‘In the majority of Royal Mail’s workplaces Phases One to Three of the national agreement have been implemented without any local industrial action being mounted. Outdated working practices have been replaced. And efficiency is being improved.
‘But in other parts of the country, most notably in London, there has been repeated non-cooperation and industrial action to frustrate the agreement’s implementation.
‘It is claimed by union representatives that in London, management is unilaterally imposing change that goes beyond the 2007 agreement’s first three phases. Management contests this, pointing out that all London is being asked to accept is what everyone else in the country is delivering under the first three phases.
‘It is these local disputes that have now escalated into the threatened national strike.’
On the issue of pensions he said: ‘The Trustees are engaged in their periodic assessment of the pensions deficit and lest there be any doubt let me make it clear – the Government’s policy on the pensions deficit will not be dictated by strike action.’
He continued: ‘An independent third party may well be needed to help the two sides resolve their differences. ACAS is engaged, but we have to be realistic: it will be far easier for ACAS to play an effective role if the threat of a national strike is lifted.’
Greenford Mail Centre CWU Area Processing Rep Geoff Loftus told News Line: ‘Peter Mandelson needs to get out of London himself and get from the top to the bottom of the UK, where there is bullying, harassment and intimidation of postal workers going on.
‘Him and his mate Crozier are putting so much pressure on their managers that they’re going sick.
‘They are forcing staff to work far above any realistic target.
‘For them to say now: call off the strikes and we’ll go to ACAS, is pathetic.
‘They have had the chance to do this weeks and months ago.
‘People who actually earn their money are the likes of postmen, not the likes of Mandelson and Crozier, who gets, not earns, six times the wages of the prime minister.’
Speaking on behalf of the London Division of the CWU, John Simkins, substitute London Division Rep, told News Line that Mandelson’s remarks were ‘a disgrace’, and added: ‘He needs to be removed from office.’
He sadi: ‘This is somebody who is unelected, and he’s got no right to stand up in the House of Lords and slag off working people – particularly working people who have been legally balloted and have voted overwhelmingly to strike to protect their jobs and their terms and conditions.’
Simkins added: ‘And if he spent as much time encouraging Royal Mail to reach an agreeable settlement with the union as he does slagging the union off, we’d all be a lot better off.
‘I just think his attitude is another example of a so-called Labour government which does not have the interests of working people at heart.
‘What he said about London postal workers is actually untrue in terms of us being obstructive to modernisation, to the modernisation programme and the pay and modernisation agreement.
‘We have completed in every office in London the first three phases of pay and modernisation.
‘And what’s happening to our members now is all of the benefits we have gained from that pay and modernisation agreement are being taken away arbitrarily by Royal Mail.’
Simkins confirmed: ‘Our strikes are going ahead this Thursday and Friday and as far as I’m concerned we will now start pushing for further industrial action as soon as possible.
‘We need now as much support as we can get from other trade unionists and trade unions.
‘We want the TUC to come off the fence and start supporting us. Where are they? They’re supposed to be representing trade unionists in this country.
‘We’re under attack and defending our jobs and our terms and conditions.
‘If they can do it to us, they can do it to anybody, and we need the TUC to come off the fence and come out publicly and defend postal workers.
‘I think every worker in the public sector is about to experience what we’re going through now,’ Simkins warned.
‘In the public sector we are going to be made to pay for the incompetence of not only the Labour government, but the people who run the financial institutions in this country, who we have bailed out to the tune of billions.
‘A year after bailing out these institutions it’s now payback time and it’s working people who are being told to pay, at a time when they’ve reintroduced massive bonuses back into the City.
‘The people that are running Royal Mail are asset-strippers, privateers, who are in it for themselves,’ he further alleged.
‘This is a fight to save Royal Mail as a public service.’