‘Rock-solid strike’ on the Isle of Man


Some 200 Isle of Man postal workers walked out on strike for the second time this morning – and the action is “rock-solid once again all across the island,” according to CWU deputy general secretary postal Terry Pullinger.

Speaking from the “bitterly cold” picket line – alongside dozens of striking Manx mailmen and women – Terry sharply criticised statements made by Isle of Man Treasury Minister and the Post Office Chair yesterday which had, he said: “Made matters worse.”

At the isle of Man Post Office board’s request, Terry and his negotiating team attended discussions with the business yesterday, but the fundamental issues in dispute were not adequately addressed, he reports, and the remarks made by the Minister Alf Cannan and company chair Julie Edge, while the talks were taking place, were “extremely unhelpful,” said our DGSP.

Local broadcaster Manx Radio reported the Minister Alf Cannan making the puzzling suggestion that the island’s postal workers were being “lured into a trap” and advising workers to “not be influenced by broader issues in the UK,” while company chair Julie Edge told the station’s Mandate programme that the union of having “not proposed any workable alternative,” to her plan.

These remarks had, Terry pointed out, “demonstrated that the real decision makers were not in the negotiating room” and “our members’ anger and resolve has increased as a consequence.”

The dispute arose out of plans by the isle of Man Post Office Board to close the existing pension scheme to new entrants and recruit new staff on lower pay rates – plans which would, the CWU has pointed out, introduce two-tier employment into the business.

But management are also gunning for existing employees too, with proposals to cut the benefits in the current scheme as well, award a below-inflation 1 per cent pay settlement, buy out a range of allowances and move away from long-established voluntary redundancy arrangements, while they also want to reduce delivery days from six to five per week.

After repeated attempts by the CWU to engage the business in meaningful negotiations failed, members of the branch called for a strike ballot which returned a 93 per cent ‘Yes’ majority.

After the ballot result was announced, the union made further efforts to seek a resolution, despite strenuous objections from the CWU and from members of the public, the island’s seat of government, the Tynwald, voted on an ‘in-principle’ basis to permit IoMPO to make the USO and pension changes – making strike action inevitable.

“Members here have responded magnificently,” said Terry, “there was a brilliant turnout on the first day of the strike and it’s been rock-solid once again all across the island today.”

Our DGSP warmly praised the members for their “strength, unity and determination” and also added his thanks to branches all over the UK who have tweeted messages of support and solidarity.

No further action is planned before Christmas, and the union hopes that this period will “allow some common sense to prevail” among the company’s senior leadership.

“If not, then further action will take place in the New Year.”