From the Evening Advertiser
POSTAL workers are threatening a four-day strike from next Friday.
The action, from October 5 to October 9, is a protest against proposed changes to hours, pay and pensions.
Royal Mail has condemned the strike and claimed the postal workers have proposed no “serious” solutions.
The crux of the dispute between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) is the decision to change staff’s hours from fixed to flexible.
Chris Rye, CWU branch secretary for Swindon, said: “Depending on the amount of post, they can tell us to do more or less and they might not give it us the next week.
“People want to know what time they’re starting work and what time they finish.”
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He said the changes would cause staff problems with planning family life.
“Also if someone goes sick or on a holiday, we would usually cover it on overtime,” he said.
“But now four people would have to split it up and do it as extra work, but not get paid the overtime. That would mean a potential £5,000 to £6,000 loss for workers.”
All postal workers will also take a £1,000 to £1,500 pay cut from plans to stop the door-to-door delivery of direct mail.
The other main dispute is the scrapping of a 30-year-old scheme next April concerning allowances and redundancies.
Mr Rye said that the redundancy package for a postal worker after 23 years’ service would fall from £30,000 to £8,000.
“They are also behind in our pension payments and want to change the way our pensions are worked out, which will cost us thousands. Some of our 1,500 members could lose £20,000 to £30,000 a year,” he said.
“If they’re going to just bring these changes in, and you’re going to lose all that money, the only alternative is to strike.
“We don’t think the business is being run to the customers’ approval. People don’t like to get their morning mail late and small villages like Avebury are losing their post offices.
“We’re hoping to negotiate and reach an agreement that benefits both sides. But they don’t want to reach an agreement.”
“I think Royal Mail are pushing to be privatised and that’s why they’re putting proposals to us that they know we’re not going to agree with.”
But Royal Mail branded the union “unrealistic and unreasonable”.
“As a result of the Communication Workers’ Union decision to return to strike action, we will now begin to make the changes,” a spokesman said.
“The call for further strikes does not change the urgent need for Royal Mail to modernise and become more flexible and efficient if it is to survive.”
Royal Mail said flexible hours would simply mean staff working the hours they are paid to work, and claimed its rivals were 40 per cent more efficient after modernisation and the union’s plans would cost £2.4bn over four years.
The union refused Royal Mail’s offer of a 2.5 per cent pay rise to be topped up to three per cent over several years.
Royal Mail also claimed the union had misled its members by stating the company had decided pension changes without consulting staff. It said all changes would be made in line with existing agreements with the union and staff would get the proper notice period. Further one-day strikes in logistics, deliveries and processing are planned from October 15.