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Postal workers walk out over planned pay and job cuts – Birmingham picket lines

IMCista | 29.06.2007 20:06 | Workers' Movements | Birmingham

Up to 130,000 postal workers today took part in a 24-hour strike -the first in 11 years- to stop the Royal Mail's cost-cutting plans, which the Communication Workers Union (CWU) says would only mean cuts in members' pay and pensions, job cuts and more post office closures. Picket lines were mounted outside sorting offices and mail centres across the country from early morning, disrupting mail deliveries for the day.

In Birmingham, two picket lines at the front and back gates of the main mail centre in Newtown saw, on and off, tens of postal workers and their supporters, while 'Royal Mail police' were trying to break up the picket lines, intimidating and threatening picketers. There was also another picket line somewhere in the city centre.

the back gate picket line
the back gate picket line

the front gate picket line
the front gate picket line

closed for industrial action!
closed for industrial action!

Having tried "every measure possible" to seek a fair resolution to the long dispute with the Royal Mail management, 77% of CWU members had voted for industrial action to "force the Royal Mail to think again." Royal Mail management has repeatedly refused the CWU offers of meaningful talks.

On the picket lines, postal workers spoke of low salaries and hardships, insecurities and increasingly precarious working conditions. Many workers are being hired or contracted on a short-term or temporary basis, mostly part-time, sometimes for days or even hours. This is why, one picketer explained, a lot of them are afraid of joining the picket lines. "They simply want to improve their work conditions and that requires the blessing of their bosses," she added.

Two Indymedia 'reporters' with a video camera went in to see the Mail Centre's management to get the other side of the story, so to speak, but "no one was available for interviews," they were told after some waiting. They were, however, given the official statement of Royal Mail, which stated that the company is "extremely disappointed that the Union has failed to grasp the need for the business to modernise and embarked on strike action that is damaging for our customers, our people and the company." The statement also claimed, among other things, that there have been 25% pay increase since 2002 and bonus payments totalling £1,500. "Nonetheless," it added, "we do want to further increase pay and rewards for our people. The offer on the table is a fair and realistic one – a 2.5% increase in basic pensionable pay, a £800 dividend if performance targets are hit and 50-50 share of any savings above budget at local office level." However, "against the backdrop of an increasing tough and shrinking market," it concluded, "we can't afford to pay more."

It is well known that the top bosses of Royal Mail are paid some of the highest salaries in the country. Earlier this month, Royal Mail 'awarded' its chief executive, Adam Crozier, a bonus of up to £370,000 as well as further benefits, taking his total package to more than £1 million and making him the highest-paid civil servant. Allan Leighton, the company’s chairman, is also said to have received a bonus of more than £100,000.

As to the "post chaos", as the infamous Birmingham Mail called it, Royal Mail said "we have developed contingency plans in order to reduce the effect of the strike but disruption is inevitable." Indeed, some Royal Mail managers were seen delivering Special Deliveries in town. "For once," as one of the picketers put it, "let them do some real work."



Hide the following 4 comments

Great stuff, but...

29.06.2007 21:13

This struggle has to be made international quickly or it is doomed. Postal workers in Sweden, Italy, and Germany have already lost their battles against this European legislation (European Union Postal Services Directive), and Holland looks like it's going the same way. Please don't let the bureaucrats sell you out, and keep going! You have a lot of public support!

Neon Black
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Who's side are the Union Leaders on??

30.06.2007 14:45

At Last!!! Neon Black is speaking the truth and getting it out there. Thankyou!! The problems with the Royal Mail losing trade is simply because e.u. directives forced the Royal Mail to open up to competition... ok I dont have so much of a problem with that- in principal.... but the competition 'carriers' were allowed to cherry pick the most profitable sectors of the market then walk away. GUESS WHAT!!? Problem!! now Royal Mail is left with the dregs and profits/turnover dramatically down and the only answer the fat cats at the top have is slash and burn. Am I the only one that see's the irony here? our rulers in Brussels dictate what we have to do and as is so boringly typical our quisling puppet 'government' in London just silently stand by and take all the blame (astoundingly rare for ANY politician!) and the 'economic case' for opening up the Royal Mail to 'free markets' is put into action. Never once- not one single squeek- from blair and his crew as to why theyre forcing/inflicting these changes on to the British people...... its because they have to! because of what he/they/those before signed us up for with the e.u.! But guess what the spin is? oh.... its the unreasonable inflexible British worker! It was e.u. meddling that saw the Peugeot plant moved from Coventry as well and...oh no not again.... our pathetic traiterous treacherous 'government' stood by silent not a pip squeek of truth as to why the plant was really being moved.
My question is this; Why oh why aren't the Union leaders, when on national or local TV or radio blowing this whole e.u. cover-up wide open?? I haven't seen or heard one Union representative even mention that all this is a result of e.u. directives, dictats and orders... These Union rep's have an almost unprecidented chance to blow the cover on the untold damage that our new e.u. dictators are doing to this country- Why dont they use their chance? Are they e.u. stooges as well??!! Can you just imagine what a good poke in the eye it would be to the power addicted e.u. projectists if this was all bought out into the public arena? (because I really feel that for some strange reason it never is). No more snooping around in the shadows with spineless creeps like blair and crew to carry out their dictats then into the bargain cover up the source (e.u.) of their deeds and actions? What we should all bare in mind as well is that while Post Offices and Hospitals are closing and our sick and ill die because we 'cant afford the medication and treatment...' , billions upon billions of pounds of OUR tax cash is being handed over to the very e.u. thats inflicting all of this upon us! Ok I've had my rant but in closing lets just see how many of the treacherous/traiterous fat cats who are overseeing these e.u. orders end up well paid and secure, looked after with pensions and bonuses that we couldnt even dream of and more than likely a title ta boot!! watch this space.
Once again sorry for the rant but seeing Neon Blacks 'mail rather got me on a roll.
Many Thanks.
Tim M

Tim Melville
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Union leaders...

30.06.2007 18:46

aren't speaking up, because their very job depends on containing militant working class action. Their job is to 'negotiate' with the government, which means they have to sell them out. As a reward, they usually get a peerage at the end of it. Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers Union makes 'left' noises in public, but he will eventually kowtow to Blair/Brown in private, because that's his job.

In this case, the actual postal workers - i.e. the ones who do the posting, sorting, etc - need to link up with their European brothers and sisters, issue a demand (no redundancies and an above inflation pay rise), and stick to it. If they don't, we'll all suffer the consequences.

Neon Black
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Up the posties!

30.06.2007 18:48

Well done people, keep up the fight!