The Communication Workers Union yesterday warned that planned job cuts by Royal Mail will threaten services and downgrade staff to a part-time workforce.
Plans seen by the CWU show cuts of between eight and 20 per cent across the country with London hit the hardest.
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: ‘Royal Mail needs to reach an agreement with us over modernisation. This is no way to deal with change.’
Martin Walsh, CWU London divisional rep, said: ‘This is not modernisation. These are arbitrary cuts by management.
‘There’s no machinery coming in to help cope with the workload so these job cuts will have a bad impact on services.
‘We’re balloting our members across London for strike action to fight these cuts.
‘There are 1,600 jobs at stake in London. Royal Mail is profitable but the recession means our members would find it hard to get other work, so we’ll fight these savage attacks on our industry.
‘We want secure, full-time work for postal workers. Part-time work just isn’t realistic for most of our members.
‘It’s crucial that services are not reduced any further.’
The CWU added that the timetable for industrial action will be finalised this week.
Last Friday, Ward had warned over Royal Mail’s intention to impose a pay freeze ‘this is a three-fold attack on services, jobs and terms and conditions which makes industrial conflict inevitable.’
Watford CWU branch secretary Alan Walsh told News Line yesterday: ‘We’re opposed to a pay freeze.
‘Royal mail are making a profit. They are jumping on the band wagon of other companies making pay freezes and pay cuts.
‘Our members are poorly paid anyway.’
On job cuts, he added: ‘There has to be national strike action this time, we can’t sustain these job cuts.
‘People are overloaded. They are having to carry more and more and the walks are longer as well.
‘The job cuts are not driven by less work, but just to save money.
‘Managers are giving no reason other than “I’ve been told to cut the budget”.’
Alan Walsh added: ‘We have a separate ballot for strike action at Watford because managers have suspended our health and safety officer.
‘At the moment, he has been suspended for three weeks without any charges brought against him.
‘All they said is it is over alleged “aggressive behaviour” but what it is really about is he is doing his job well.’
• The majority of UK companies are planning to freeze wages this year, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
Its survey published on the eve of yesterday’s BCC annual convention in Birmingham found that 58 per cent of firms are planning to freeze salaries and a further twelve per cent are planning to cut them this year.
The BCC surveyed a total of 400 companies between 23 March and 6 April.
Half of respondents said that they are either considering or are certain to make redundancies this year.
The survey also found one in five firms believed staff hours would be cut over the next six months, and almost two thirds expected the UK economy to get worse.