STRIKES GOING AHEAD! says London District Chairman

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‘Unless there is a substantial breakthrough the strikes are going ahead on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,’ CWU London District Chairman John Denton told News Line yesterday.

‘We don’t agree to lifting the strike action until there is something that is concrete and tangible in our hands,’ Denton continued.

Talks between Royal Mail and the CWU took place at the TUC for a second day yesterday, with the CWU executive arriving in the afternoon to receive an update on their progress.

Denton said: ‘We are not hearing anything out of the talks. Crozier (Royal Mail Chief Executive) said both parties should shut up while the talks continue and that is what they are doing.

‘Higson (Royal Mail Managing Director) let the cat out of the bag over the weekend when he said we are hoping these talks will keep us going over Christmas.

‘The implication of that being that he wanted to drag things out until after Christmas when he thinks he can take us on in a period which is traditionally a low period and when he thinks he can beat us.

‘But we won’t accept a bunch of platitudes about talks about talks and let them drag it out.’

Denton added: ‘The feeling among members is very strong. They are the ones taking the attacks when they go in every day. They are the ones having their hard won conditions undermined and broken up, and they are the ones who are determined not to let it get any worse.’

Asked about CWU plans to go to the High Court to stop Royal Mail’s plans to hire an extra 30,000 ‘temporary workers’, Denton said: ‘Our headquarters has taken legal advice and we’ve been told the legal action is going to go forward.

‘But the law is written in such a way that we’ve got to have instances of where they are actually doing a job of a striking worker and not just clearing a backlog.

‘And the only person who monitors it is a civil servant whose boss is Mandelson.’

A CWU press office spokesman told News Line: ‘The talks are ongoing at the TUC.

‘The Executive are getting an update from Dave Ward (CWU Deputy General Secretary Postal) this afternoon.

‘The action is proceeding as things stand and they are the ones who decide, there is no change at the moment, no change, no update at this moment.’

Tomorrow 43,700 workers in mail centres, delivery units in mail centres, network logistic drivers and garage staff are due to strike from 4am.

On Friday 400 workers at three sites in Plymouth, Stockport and Stoke, who assist mail centres by reading and entering mail addresses are to strike.

On Saturday 77,000 delivery and collection staff across the UK will be striking.

Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC who chaired the talks, said after they broke up on Monday night: ‘We have had useful talks but we are now going to adjourn overnight to allow some work to be done on some of the issues involved.’

He added that both sides had agreed not to make any comment on the negotiations.

A government briefer told the bourgeois media that the talks are proving to be ‘extremely difficult’ because the union’s executive is ‘contrary and unpredictable’.

He added: ‘They were close to a deal the other day but the CWU negotiators keep getting undermined by their executive’.

The government belief is that CWU national executive members are obstructing a pro-Royal Mail management settlement.