Royal Mail chiefs compared to Victorian-age bosses  

Postal, Royal Mail Group (EMP)

‘Pushem & Sloggem’ quip from CWU delegate at yesterday’s Liverpool briefing summed up the anger and frustration of hard-working postmen and women around the country, as the Royal Mail pay dispute heads towards a national strike ballot…  

“When does the ballot start?” was the big question as branch, area and local unit reps from the North West, North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland gathered in central Liverpool for the third of three regional briefings on the current situation – and from the loud cheers and prolonged standing ovation that greeted DGSP Terry Pullinger’s closing speech, it was abundantly clear that our activists are ready for the campaign.

And a comment from Mersey Amal Branch area delivery rep Ian Corrin, during a lively Q&A session between the officers’ opening presentations and the closing speeches, articulated for many the sheer arrogance currently being shown by the company’s senior leadership, when he talked of how he had recently read Robert Tressell’s classic Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, written over a century ago about the cruelty of bosses towards workers back in those days.

Citing Tressell’s use of caricature names for employers in his iconic novel, Ian said: “I can imagine the Royal Mail Board and the top shareholders sitting around like Rushton, Sweater, Didlum & Grinder, Pushem & Sloggem and Bluffem & Doemdown boasting about their profits, lining their own pockets and showing a total lack of respect for their workers.”

Ian also invited outdoor secretary Mark Baulch to his gate meeting at Liverpool South Delivery Office this morning – which Mark accepted.

Paul Edwards, a processing rep from Warrington, said: “Our membership are up in arms. We’ve got to mobilise,” while Newcastle Amal Branch’s Mark Hugall was one of many who asked when the ballot will happen, that, so far, there have been 22 workplace meeting out of 25 units within his area and that “Royal Mail bosses are playing with fire.”

From Edinburgh, Gary Clark reported that his own branch had seen a surge in membership since the pay campaign started, saying: “We’re up from 2,800 to 3,000 members in Scotland No.2” and added that, with other parts of the CWU in dispute or going into dispute, and with other unions fighting on pay as well, it was important to support and solidarise with each other, and Glasgow & District Amal’s John Carson talked of the importance of engaging younger members in the dispute campaign and encouraging them to become more involved.

“The fight is on,” he added.

Ian Barnes, a distribution rep from the union’s South Yorkshire & District Branch, told the briefing that there was strong support for the CWU pay fight from right across his area – and that this was solid right down to the smallest of units, and Ian McMullen from Postal Technical Services, said: “The engineers are fully behind this dispute.”

Cheshire No.1 Branch delegate Darrell Brough gave practical examples of how standing together and standing up to the employer can win fair deals, whether smaller or bigger issues.

“We’ve got to take the fight to them,” he urged.

Our DGSP Terry Pullinger and the Postal officers Mark Baulch, Davie Robertson, Carl Maden and Andy Furey had each given detailed updates to the briefing as to the current state of play nationally, thanking those present for their excellent work, and restating the crucial importance of campaigning for the biggest possible YES vote if or when a strike ballot is called.

Terry, once again, outlined where the company currently is on pay and that its present position of a 2 per cent pay rise is completely unacceptable – both in terms of a justified reward for postal workers’ exceptional efforts during the pandemic and in the context of the rising cost-of-living in the UK economy at this time.

“Our people absolutely deserve a pay rise and we will fight to the very end,” he insisted, adding: “The first step will be delivering that ballot on pay.”

Each of the officers ended on a rousing note, with Carl Maden looking ahead to the potential national strike ballot and saying: “Every YES vote will send a message to this company. A big YES vote will show the business that we mean business.”

Mark Baulch signed off his speech with: “Keep on with the good work. We will win. Together, united, we will overcome, once again,” Davie Robertson said: “We need to stand strong. Stand together. Let’s work together” and Andy Furey highlighted the members in the various numerically smaller grades and functions of the company, reminding those present to ensure that they contact everyone.

Andy also gave a special mention to the union’s Post Office members who were out on strike yesterday and on Saturday, thanking the Royal Mail members for the solidarity they have shown so far and reporting that the action taken had been successful and solidly supported.

Terry spoke again after the Q&A session, replying to several of the points raised and then launching into his closing speech, during which he warmly praised the spirit and the dedication and the long and proud history of UK postal workers and of this great union.

As he has in each of these three regional briefings, our DGSP told the audience he was going to end with a challenge, and asking them, in their collective reply, to “take the roof off this hall.”

“Are you with your trade union?” He asked.

 “YES” came the deafening roar, followed by a sustained standing ovation – to which Terry and the Postal officers all stood and applauded back.

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