‘THIS IS THE TIME TO HIT THEM’ –striking postal workers tell News Line

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CWU pickets at Tooting Delivery Office determined to defend jobs and conditions
CWU pickets at Tooting Delivery Office determined to defend jobs and conditions

LONDON postal workers taking strike action again yesterday at offices across the capital were angered by the offer of their union leaders to Royal Mail to cancel the national strike, if Royal Mail will talk to them about their ‘Business Plan’.

At the Ealing South Delivery Office, Ealing CWU branch chair Fred Barnfield told News Line: ‘It’s ridiculous saying strike action is ruled out over Christmas if Royal Mail will accept the peace offer.

‘Just to carry on talking is ridiculous.

‘A 76 per cent strike vote means strike action has to go ahead.

‘All through this dispute Royal Mail have been shown to be deceitful, underhand, provocative and to have completely ignored the bullying and harassment that’s going on in the sorting offices.

‘Dave Ward (CWU postal secretary) offering to go to ACAS! – well we’ve offered that already and Royal Mail have turned it down.

‘To suspend strike action on a promise to talk is letting the membership down badly.

‘We don’t want talks, we want an agreement and we want Royal Mail to honour agreements they have already signed up to.

‘Also, it begs the question why don’t the government step in and put in place a management that is capable of running a vital service like Royal Mail.’

At the nearby Ealing West Delivery Office, CWU member Richard said: ‘We’re concerned that people who cross the picket line still get the benefits when the strike is over.

‘Historically, the interests of the working class and the ruling class are opposites.

‘There has got to be a result in our favour.’

Fellow CWU member Rob Willoughby said: ‘We’ve got to win this fight.

‘The bosses want total privatisation and a part-time workforce, getting people to do more for less and running the service into the ground.

‘Part-timers can’t do the job properly.

‘Regular postmen know the round, know the addresses and the people and they do the job properly and professionally.

‘Now is the ideal time for decisive action.’

At the Chiswick Delivery Office, CWU member Mick Chambers said: ‘With such a unanimous yes vote, we have to have more than a one-day strike.

‘We don’t want a three-month no-strike moratorium to allow management to wait until the new year.

‘I am prepared to stick it out all the way.’

Mitch Mitchell, CWU rep at Acton Delivery Office, said: ‘There must be no agreement which does not defend jobs. No-one can survive on part-time pay.

‘All the companies that are announcing they are withdrawing their contracts with Royal Mail are just threatening because no-one can deliver a service as cheap as us.’

On the picket line outside Peckham Delivery Office yesterday morning, CWU SE15 rep Billy Colvill said: ‘Given the fact we had a 76% yes vote, I think a lot of people are dismayed by our leadership and executive’s offer.

‘Some of it is absolute gobbledygook.

‘We know what Royal Mail’s intentions are. We must go ahead with next Thursday’s national strike action.

‘Instead of waving a white flag to Royal Mail and our employers, the government, we have to now start turning round and saying that this is an issue for the entire trade union movement.

‘We must have a public sector alliance and take united action.’

There was a lively picket line at Brockley Delivery Office in Lewisham, where CWU member Bill Tolman said: ‘We had our national leaders down here the other day, saying that they are still talking and that there were lots of issues and it’s a very slow process.

‘But I think Royal Mail and the government want a strike to blame us and sell half the Post Office off.

‘I think we have to fight to keep what we’ve got now or we’ll lose everything.

‘We’ve got to fight to defend jobs.

‘I think there should be action, but it has to be action by the whole trade union movement.’

Mark Jenkins, another CWU member at Brockley, said: ‘This is the time to hit them, now we’re going national. This is the time to step it up.

‘We need to impose on Royal Mail exactly what we want.

‘We’ve had enough of cuts and bullying and harassment, terms and conditions being crushed by executive action being imposed willy nilly.’

About a dozen striking postal workers were out at the picket line in Hampstead, north-west London.

Unit Rep John Cotier told News Line: ‘The public sector unions should not sit back and wait for us to win this battle, they should join us.

‘They should designate a day of action for all public sector workers if Royal Mail don’t take this olive branch.

‘Royal Mail managers are still being instructed to bully our members.

‘Last week our new area manager issued instructions to all managers in our area that if anybody cuts off or refuses to work past their time, they should be charged with wilful delay, which will result in dismissal.

‘As far as we are concerned there is no going back, we’ve come too far with this fight.

‘Our members realise that to go back under the terms and conditions that have been forced on us, under executive action, would be like returning to coal mining with a canary.

‘Our members are not prepared to do this.’

CWU member Bill said: ‘The flexibility only seems to work one way.

‘We are expected to work over our finishing time for no extra pay.

‘I don’t know of any job where you are expected to stay out an hour or two hours and not get paid.

‘This fight has to be pursued to the bitter end.

‘We have to defeat all these attacks and defend our jobs.

‘Hopefully the public will realise it’s not all greedy postmen.

‘The national strike has to happen and as soon as possible.’

John Taylor, deputy unit rep, said: ‘We have got to have a national strike.

‘We’ve not been on strike 17 weeks just for the national leaders to call a peace deal.

‘The Royal Mail have rejected the no-strike offer of three months – why give them any more opportunities.

‘We don’t want a repeat of 2007 when they left us in the dark for three weeks with a total blackout. The members deserve better.

‘We need the full strength of the union behind us straight away on Thursday – all out.’

There was a lively picket at Tooting Delivery Office in south-west London yesterday morning.

Neil Parker, the CWU rep, told News Line: ‘What’s most affecting people here, is they’ve been forced to change working hours.

‘That means for some people a loss of £70 to £100 a week and for others they used to get one weekend in three and now they only get one in six.

‘The other thing that’s farcical is that management say they want to talk but all they do is tell you what they are going to do and allow no negotiations.

‘This dispute is not about pay, it’s about them taking away earnings and opportunities and full-time jobs.

‘And the company made £321 million profit last year and we didn’t get a pay rise and we didn’t strike over it.

‘I think that shows how angry people are now.’

Pickets at Stoke Newington Delivery Office in north London were celebrating a local victory in their battle over terms and conditions with a barbecue yesterday morning.

Joe Donnellan, CWU N16 rep, told News Line: ‘In our office we were given 28-days notice for executive action to return us to a five-day week.

‘The members in the office for months now have been taking strike action, they have been doing the job properly and as a result caused a huge backlog in our office.

‘We believe this is one of the reasons Royal Mail has suspended executive action now until January and we look at this as our first victory, hopefully the first of many.

‘We now remain on four-day weeks until Christmas at least.

‘N1 and N4 both have drivers on four-day weeks and that was threatened and has now also been suspended until January.’

Donnellan added: ‘After achieving such a massive yes vote, 76% in the national ballot, everyone was fully expecting national action to take place this week.

‘London came out on strike again today and we won’t call our action off and the leadership should stop backing down and get on and call a national strike.

‘If the action next week is called off with a deal being in place, not only will it show weakness but it will let all those in the union down badly.’