Postal workers say: ‘WE NEED A GENERAL STRIKE’ – ‘All workers are under attack now’

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Striking CWU members in Cambridge with their banner
Striking CWU members in Cambridge with their banner

THOUSANDS of striking delivery staff took to picket lines in London and across the country yesterday, on the second day of the national postal strike in defence of jobs and basic rights.

CWU members were on picket duty in Amersham and Great Missenden.

Tony from Amersham said ‘I think we have got to win this dispute, because if we don’t Royal Mail are going to make the job so intolerable, people will not be able to do it. We are really pleased with the response we have had from our members. I think we need a general strike, because all workers are under attack now’.

Andy from Great Missenden said that ‘They are out to crush our union, because they know that it is our union that stands in the way of them being able to privatise Royal Mail. We are like the turbulent priest that needs to be done away with’.

The striking Royal Mail workers got loud support from motorists, passing members of the public and other trade unionists.

Cambridge postal workers at the Henley Road delivery office held a very lively picket with music, barbecue and a car with their union banner draped over it.

Tony Carter Chair of the County TUC was on the picket line. He said: ‘I think this strike is political because there are outside forces within the government and it begs the question: Who is running the country – Peter Mandelson or Gordon Brown?

‘The TUC has a duty and a moral responsibility to give the CWU full support.’

In London pickets were out in force at the sorting office at N16 Stoke Newington.

An executive council member of the health workers’ union, Unite, Gill George, came down to show her support.

She said: ‘The union nationally supports the CWU’s dispute.

‘I think we have to make sure workers don’t pay for the bosses’ crisis.’

Chris Hall, a CWU member in N16, said: ‘The time that they give you as a start time and the time that you’re meant to be finished means that the job is just not feasible.

‘You can’t do the job in the time they give you.

‘You’re going out with six to eight bags, the first bag weighs 16 kilos, all the rest of the bags are up to 11 kilos.

‘They want us to jog around at five miles an hour, carrying this weight, and I’ve been in the job for 30 years at this office.

‘When I do retire, whether there’s anything left for me, I don’t even know.

‘They went 13 years with no investment in pensions, a pension holiday.

‘As a result, each year of those 13 years the Treasury took every pound of profit from Royal Mail.

‘Now there is a £6.1 billion deficit. No one knows how much pension we will get.

‘Now we have started with our strike action, we will have to see it to the finish.

‘We are prepared to go out over Christmas, whatever it takes.’

Frank, the CWU rep at Haringey delivery office, said: ‘We had a text from Huddersfield this morning, saying everyone’s out strong.

‘There is great support from the public.

‘The government is making a stand against us and I believe Unison and Unite will be taking action in the near future.

‘I believe we should all join together in a public sector alliance against the present government.’

Strongest

Sam Bartram, the CWU rep at Arnos Grove office, said: ‘This is our strongest picket line yet.

‘The performance of Mandelson, Crozier and Mark Higson this week has finally shown their hand, once and for all, in their joint determination to break this strike.

‘All that’s done is to strengthen our resolve after 19 weeks of dispute.

‘They have the nerve to call us Luddites when they are the ones trying to smash up a public service and tear up agreements.’

At the SW1 delivery office there were 20 people on the picket line.

Ken Brown, CWU member, said: ‘The strike is going well.

‘The national vote proved there was big support. People are concerned about their jobs.

‘I am striking to save Royal Mail so it doesn’t get put in the hands of private owners and to protect our jobs and conditions.

‘Mandelson pretends it’s nothing to do with him, but he knows exactly what’s going on.’

Philip, another striker, said: ‘CWU members are strong and hopeful for a resolution.

‘People have to stand on one side or the other.’

Patrick Paryag, the CWU SW1 Unit Rep told News Line: ‘Management don’t care about us or their customers.

‘A lot of what you see in the news is lies.’

There was a strong picket at Wimbledon Delivery Office.

Steve Carpenter, CWU rep, told News Line: ‘I believe there is a directive from Mandelson to destroy our union and lay the way open for privatisation of Royal Mail, so it’s important to win.’

Vince Micallef, the E3 Bow union rep, told News Line: ‘The other public sector unions are vital in our fight against Royal Mail and the government.

‘We must get together and coordinate a joint fight against the government and Royal Mail.

‘This government is deeply involved in this dispute: they are managing this dispute from behind the scenes and steering Royal Mail management at every turn.

‘We need to step up our action, and if that means that we must stay out for longer periods then so be it.

‘We are under attack and all of us are up for the fight ahead.’

There were big pickets at delivery offices across south-east London yesterday morning.

About 15 striking CWU members joined the picket outside the Peckham office.

CWU SE15 rep Billy Colvill said: ‘It’s become very clear that this Labour government and the Royal Mail executive, Crozier, are organising to smash the CWU and privatise Royal Mail.

‘The response of the CWU members in support of the strike has sent a message that they’re opposed to the government’s and Royal Mail’s plan.

‘But the question is where do we go from here?

‘The TUC have said they’re supporting us, the RMT members are going to join us on the picket lines.

‘It’s obvious the way forward is the TUC must call for action from other unions to support us and to build a public sector alliance.’

There were over 20 pickets at the Brockley Delivery Office.

Pickets warmed themselves by a fire and put up their banner.

George Dickson, CWU SE4 rep, told News Line: ‘It’s good that everyone’s joined the national strike.

‘Now we can’t afford to lose this battle. ‘We’re going to win this battle. If we lose, Royal Mail will be finished as a service.’

There were over 30 pickets outside the SE1 and SE16 delivery offices in Mandela Way in Southwark.

Striking CWU members said they were very angry at being labelled ‘lemmings’.

CWU SE1 rep Tige Cobankaya said: ‘It’s about job security. It’s a shame it took so long to go national, we should have started our strikes in June.

‘Being in a union is all about standing together. All the unions need to stick together.’

There were around 15 pickets at Camberwell Delivery Office (SE5).

CWU member Michael Thein said: ‘We are being bullied, especially in SE5.

‘In the name of modernisation they change the system, everything.

‘Three years ago we went to a four-day week, 10 hours a day.

‘But we have been given more and more work to do.

‘Then suddenly they changed us back to a five-day week, eight hours a day, but with the same work in one day that we did when we worked for 10 hours.

‘How are we going to finish the work?

‘We are under pressure, we can’t even talk to the customer, we can’t say anything to the management.

‘The only way is to strike.’

There was 100 per cent support for the strike at the Walworth Delivery Office.

Steve Crawley, CWU SE17 and SE11 rep, told News Line: ‘Back in 2007, we had 22 walks, we’ve now got 15.

‘Royal Mail want to cut us to the bone to make the service unmanageable and make the government sell it, then they can get their hands on the £49 billion still left in our pension fund.’

On the picket line at the Kentish Town Delivery Office in north-west London, CWU member Stephen King said: ‘This is a crisis point with Royal Mail and us.

‘It’s come to the point when year in, year out they’ve been taking jobs away.

‘Modernisation to us is just working hard and losing jobs.

‘People are taking out lorry loads every day.

‘They say there is less mail, but we’ve lost 40,000 jobs and our bags are getting bigger.’

CWU member Andy Savva said: ‘It’s all about money, that’s all the government and Royal Mail care about.

‘They are giving us more work to do, they are changing rotas without notice.

‘We have to fight this till we win.’

At the Hampstead Delivery Office, CWU Unit Rep John Cotier said on the picket line: ‘Royal Mail Managing Director Mark Higson sent a letter to all staff quoting various aspects as to why we shouldn’t strike.

‘He states the number of letters we are delivering is declining by 10 per cent.

‘At Hampstead we’ve done tests.

‘The agreed amount of letters per box is 150. In our test every box contained almost double that amount, up to 320 letters per box.

‘Also, small packets are calculated at 80 packets per York container.

‘Our test on October 22 established Yorks containing up to 316 packets.

‘So much for this decline in traffic.’

He added: ‘The strike has to be escalated, there is no going back for us now.’

CWU member Sean Cassidy said: ‘I hope we win.

‘We’re disgusted with Crozier and Mandelson.

‘They should get involved in negotiations.

‘All they are involved in is destroying the business.’

‘We don’t want the Tories back, we’d like a workers government.’

At the Willesden Delivery Office, NW10, there were 15 pickets and they had tremendous support, especially from local bus drivers.

James Wood, a CWU member, said: ‘We need to show that we are taking this further industrial action seriously and we will not be pushed around.

‘I want other unions to come in and stand with the CWU, because if they don’t how many more unions will they be able to crush if the CWU loses this battle.

‘The working class are like cogs in a clock, without the cogs, the clock won’t work.’

Clint Ferris, another CWU member, said: ‘The bullying that goes on in the office is terrible.

‘We are paid for a certain time and we have to work past that time and not get paid.

‘Because I refuse to do unpaid overtime, the management come down on me like a ton of bricks.

‘The management has tested me four times, everyone else they’ve tested once, and they follow me on my walk.

‘The Unite union should sort this management out, they shouldn’t be in a union.’

At West Kensington Delivery Office, CWU member Kenny Neol told News Line: ‘We are told that if we can’t finish our work in our paid time then we have to work over or we will be disciplined.

‘The only paid overtime is given to strikebreakers, even if your rest day is on a strike day you won’t get overtime.’

Sarah Milnthorpe, the CWU rep for the Luton Delivery Office, said: ‘I think the support from the post workers is great – it’s 99 per cent out, which is great.

‘The feedback from the public is that we have got support – most of the public is behind us.’

At Uxbridge delivery office in west London, CWU rep Rob Stone said: ‘This fight is against the imposition of changes.’

Speaking on the 40-strong picket line surrounding Northolt delivery office, CWU member Jimmy Haugh said: ‘Other unions must come out with us. The government and Royal Mail management are working together. If they had their way they would run the union out of Royal Mail, but it won’t happen because we are going to win this one.’

West London Postal Branch Treasurer Julian Pallett, speaking on the picket line at Hanwell delivery office, said: ‘After 16 weeks of local action in London we now find ourselves taking national action and it’s supported with the same commitment of the membership.

‘The government are sat in the background and it’s obvious that they are behind it.

‘We’d like support from every trade union. Everyone knows that if we get beat they are going to come back and try to smash every trade union in this country.’

At Ealing Delivery office CWU Rep Bill Davies said: ‘We’re getting messages of support from the other unions.

‘Unison and the RMT have pledged support, now we need to see it.’

Fred Barnfield, West London Postal Branch Chair, said: ‘We’ve had a pledge of support from the RMT. If one union has a ruck then I would expect other unions to support, especially a really genuine dispute like this.

‘Instead of one CWU picket line, we should have joint picket lines with health workers, the fire brigade, the RMT, we’re all going through the same thing – one person being told to do three persons’ jobs, enforced overtime with no pay.’

At Acton Delivery office, there were thirty on the picket line, a brazier blazing and a short ‘scab list’ pinned to the office sign on the gate.

CWU member Mark Moore said: ‘We should take a leaf out of the French’s book – one out all out.

That’s the only way to make them sit up and think.’

CWU Rep Mitchell Morris said: ‘It’s a good turnout today, showing the strength of feeling in the office. It shows that people realise that this national strike is important for our future.

‘If it goes on then we must have support from the other trade unions and not just words.

‘There’s been a need over the past few years for the public sector to get together to fight against the job cuts and to defend public services.’

There were about 30 s CWU pickets assemble outside Roundtree Way Royal Mail Sorting Office, Norwich yesterday morning.

Graham Bale the CWU representative at the depot said: ‘We are pretty solid here.

‘Nobody wants or can afford to lose money but we feel that if we don’t strike we will probably end up losing our jobs or at best be part time.

‘We also need to protect the service as it has been going down steadily over the last 10 years and it will only get worse.

‘We need to stick together I think Thatcherism is coming back.’

There were pickets at the Bowthorpe Royal Mail Depot, Norwich. CWU representative Richard Jones told News Line ‘I would say that a public sector alliance is a very good idea.’

There was good support for the postal workers picket line at the Crawley delivery office.

There were 20 pickets and the rep said that the public were 3 to 1 in favour of the strike.