Magnificent Post Office members strike for the sixth timePostal, Post Office (PO) September 29 2022
Resolute series of walkouts has forced management to more than double initial pay offer – but money on table from 1st April 2022 remains way below inflation…
Yesterday morning saw hard-working Post Office staff gather on picket lines for the sixth time, with CWU members knowing that their action so far has shifted the company significantly, but also determined to keep fighting until an acceptable deal is achieved.
Post Office Limited’s national headquarters saw a lively protest with union banners and placards displayed highlighting the contrast between the real-terms wage cuts being offered to frontline workers and the enormous sums being pocketed by senior directors, CEO Nick Read, in particular, receiving strong criticism for having paid himself the princely sum of £415,000.
Speaking from the HQ building in central London, acting DGSP Andy Furey said: “Ever since early May, our Admin, Crown Office and Supply Chain members have stood up and stood together as one in this struggle for fair pay – and we couldn’t be more proud of them for their loyalty, strength, and resilience. Every time we’ve called action, the response has been magnificent and today was no exception.”
Walkouts began on 3rd May, following a national strike ballot at the end of March that returned a 97.3 per cent majority for action over pay. The dispute had been sparked by Post Office bosses’ pay freeze on our members for the 2021/22 financial year, which was then followed up by a 2 per cent pay offer for 2022/23.
“This offer merely added insult to injury,” said Andy. “Not only did they refuse to offer anything at all in recognition of the outstanding efforts of the workforce during 2021, but they offered an increase for the current financial year that amounted to less than a quarter of the rate of inflation at that time – inflation that has continued to surge in the subsequent months.”
A lump-sum of £250 was added to the basic offer, which was then raised to 3 per cent as further strikes during June and into the summer increased the pressure on the Post Office. But, with the cost-of-living continuing to surge, an extra 1 per cent was completely insufficient – even after management doubled the cash lump-sum to £500 and raised the basic offer to 5 per cent.
“In a normal year, pay offers at those kinds of levels would be considered acceptable, but when we’ve had the retail price index (RPI) going over 10 per cent, then 11 and up to and beyond 12, there’s no way we can agree to what are, in effect, real-terms pay cuts,” Andy explained.
With a six-month period since the result of the strike ballot (28th March) having been reached yesterday (28th September), the union is unable to call any further action until a new statutory ballot has taken place and the CWU will now being this process once again. Although, the new trade dispute will encompass pay years for both 2021 and 2022. The door of course remains open for the Post Office leadership to settle the dispute by putting forward an improved offer.
“Post Office management have refused a three month extension to the ballot,” Andy continued. “which has left us with no alternative but to start the process of a second ballot in accordance with the law.
“We’ll be campaigning once again for the biggest possible YES vote, and strikes will resume when we receive the appropriate mandate.
“Mr Read can settle all of this right now by making an acceptable offer for this financial year and making recompense for the imposed 2021/22 pay freeze and the ball is in his court.
“It’s up to you Mr Read.”
And yesterday’s defiant action left the Post Office leadership in no doubt at all as to the ongoing anger of members everywhere, as the scenes of protest in central London were replicated on picket lines in Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, Glasgow and elsewhere. Post Office Supply Chain Southern Area rep Rob Jones told CWU News: “There’s been another great turnout today from our drivers, cash centre and admin workers.
“This is a chance for POL to get back to the negotiating table if they want to avoid another massive YES vote in that second ballot – a ballot which will come in the run up to the very busy pre-Christmas period.”
Rob’s Northern Area counterpart Alan Robertson, whose patch also includes Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “I was at Aberdeen this morning and the morale was good, the action was solid and members remain up for the fight – and the reports I’ve had in from other depots and units are all equally positive.
“Members are saying we need to get this second ballot under way as soon as possible and we need to be ready to take action for longer periods and in the lead up to Christmas. Although the 5 per cent and £500 that’s on the table now is nowhere near enough, our members do all know that it’s double what they were offering at the start of this and that’s only happened because of the solid action they’ve taken.
“If Mr Read and his colleagues don’t want further strike action to happen, my message to them, right now, is: ‘Give your heads a wobble and get this dispute settled.
“And let’s get back to doing our day job without all this stuff.”
SUPPORT ON THE PICKET LINES: