CWU strike Day 1
About 42,000 mail sorting staff and drivers staged a solid 24-hour strike today and nearly 80,000 delivery and collection workers are due to strike on Friday in defence of jobs and conditions. Three more days of strike action could be called for next week.
Roger Charles, Union of Communication Workers (UCW) branch secretary at Mount Pleasant, joined his members outside London’s biggest sorting office on day one of the national strike. “The present strike had been on the cards for a long time,” he said.
“It’s the first of many public services to face attacks on terms, conditions and jobs. It has a lot to do with the type of management that has been brought into most public sector industries. They are concerned with private enterprise rather than service to our customers.”
Roger believes that this “is the big one” in terms of trade union action in defence of jobs and conditions.
“Some people think it’s inspired by some mythical trade union. But in fact it’s about ordinary people trying to make a living. We are seeing our terms and conditions being ripped up in front of our eyes,” he said, as a huge lorry honked in support of the pickets.
“Mandelson is currently the puppet master pulling the strings behind Royal Mail management. He is giving them support to destroy a group of workers. It’s not what we would expect from a Labour government or a former left winger. How can you change your spots so dramatically – it’s beyond belief!”
Roger’s colleague Colin Jones has been working for Royal Mail for 21 years, 15 of them at Mount Pleasant. He currently earns a basic wage of £400 a week and was concerned that workers like himself could lose seniority benefits.
“The recession is hurting a lot of workers,” he said. “That’s why we have to go on strike. Next year we won’t have a job. Management is really pushing us around. We all embrace change and are happy to go along with it, but at a fair pace, not by dictatorship.”
Picket Jim Kirwan, Northern/North West London UCW secretary, added: “Royal Mail management don’t want a postal service in the UK. They seem hell-bent on destroying the service. Mandelson is like a petulant child – and Kenneth Clark has said that a Conservative government would completely privatise the Royal Mail. And the Lib-Dems are also in favour of privatisation.
“There is no political party that will defend the Royal Mail. In fact, we can defend the Royal Mail. We can provide the service required by keeping most of the jobs. New machinery and technology need to be dealt with in agreement with the workforce, not imposed at the expense of our jobs, terms and conditions.”
22 October 2009