Picketing posties say strike is a success
By Emily Walker Evening Advertiser
ABOUT 1,000 mail workers crippled the town’s postal network when they joined colleagues up and down in the country in a 24-hour strike.
Forty sorting office and delivery workers formed a picket line outside the Dorcan mail centre, and staff at delivery offices across town downed tools from 5am yesterday.
Communication Workers’ Union branch secretary Chris Rye said: “We have had almost 100 per cent participation in the strike here at the mail centre and about 80 per cent in the delivery offices.
“We are really surprised how big the support has been.
“The figures are much higher than we expected. Seventy-seven per cent of our members voted in favour of the actions in the ballot, but 80 or 90 per cent have gone out.
“And even some non-members have gone out in support.”
Mr Rye said a 2.5 per cent pay deal offered by Royal Mail bosses had not been enough to call off industrial action, and further walkouts could be held if successful negotiations were not reached.
“They are giving us something like a £7 or £8 pay deal, but they are taking away about £40 a week from overtime and allowances.
“The early shift allowance used to be £11, but by bringing people in later they are losing that money.
“At places like Honda, early shift workers get something like £30 and they don’t start at four in the morning.
“This is not just about us, though. We are trying to improve the postal service in the public interest and in the interest of businesses.
“Royal Mail says it is modernising, but we don’t think businesses want later deliveries. We don’t think that’s modernisation.
“We don’t think shutting down mail centres is modernisation.”
Postmen on the picket line were asking managers still entering the depot not to cross and were getting lots of supportive beeps from passing motorists.
Early-shift processing manager David Franklin said: “We have had so much support. First thing this morning there were 30 or 40 of us out here.
“There will be people taking it in turns to be here throughout the 24 hours.
“I have only seen about three people go in.”
Tony Hayes was at the depot from 5am, the same time he usually starts his sorting office shift.
“We just want to get Royal Mail back to the negotiating table,” he said.
Despite the first national strike in 11 years, Royal Mail said it was confident post would still be delivered by a skeleton service.