Royal Mail strike call – postal workers ready for actionPostal February 3 2023
Strong support around the UK for the CWU postal executive’s declaration, with reps already preparing for the big day and some considering local rallies…
Yet another broken promise by company bosses gave our union’s leadership no alternative but to authorise the resumption of industrial action yesterday evening. Meeting in emergency session during the late afternoon, industrial executive members collectively decided to call a 24-hour strike starting on Thursday 16th February.
In making the announcement, our general secretary Dave Ward explained how Royal Mail chiefs had gone back on a pledge made only weeks ago to abide by long-standing industrial relations (IR) framework procedures when introducing operational changes such as duty revisions, saying that the business was acting “in direct contravention to the unequivocal commitment given by the CEO Simon Thompson, in a letter to the union of 6th January 2023, in which he wrote that ‘the IR Framework will apply in full’.”
That formal commitment from Mr Thompson had been instrumental in the union not calling further strike action during January, to enable intensive talks to continue in a more constructive environment, Dave continued. But the company had started to implement revisions and unagreed change, whilst refusing to negotiate locally or apply the terms of the IR framework.
The CWU had made every effort to avoid the resumption of hostilities by presenting Royal Mail management with a detailed proposal for re-engagement in revisions at local level, which met the company’s timescales and included a fast-track process to resolve any disagreements over savings targets – but this sensible and reasonable proposal had been rejected by the company, leaving the union with no choice but to call further action. After explaining all of this, Dave also took the opportunity to remind branches, reps and members of the critical need to maximise turnout and the YES vote in the re-ballot currently under way across the country.
The strike will cover all duties and scheduled attendance commencing between the period at or after 12:30pm on Thursday 16th February 2023 and before 12:30pm on Friday 17th February 2023.
London & The North – ‘Ramping up support for the 16th
CWU News spoke with some of our Divisional and Regional reps and officers last night and this morning to try to gauge the reaction to this latest development and the overall response was that it had been absolutely the right call in the circumstances. London divisional rep Mark Dolan said: “The strike will be well supported in London and we’ll be having a chat among ourselves about what we’re going to do to prepare. No doubt we’ll have a bit of a gathering on the day – potentially at the Mount – but we’ll see what others want to do. We’ll also be urging our members to tune in to the Facebook broadcast with Dave Ward and Andy Furey on Friday evening.
“Mr Thompson signed up to that joint statement and then never honoured it – a complete sham. As regards our members, they will, I think, see the action as appropriate. We’re not going to stand by and allow our members to get picked off.”
Up in the North East, divisional rep Bob Maguire told us that he was already speaking with colleagues and collectively making a plan of action, saying: “We’ve arranged two meetings for early next week with all our area processing reps and all our area delivery reps and we’re going to be ramping up support for the strike and also our efforts on the ballot.” Bob added that members he had spoken to in recent days had stressed the importance of standing up to the current Royal Mail management and not letting them ride roughshod over the workforce, while his counterpart over in the North West and North Wales Ian Taylor also talked of the need to “have as much engagement as we can in the lead-up to this action. We’ve got a window to really communicate with members on why it was necessary for us to announce it.
“There’s every indication that the Royal Mail leadership are not serious about reaching an agreement, so the only time they’ll realise is when they see how determined our members are and that’s the message I’ll be giving to members in lead up to the 16th,” he said, adding that he was considering suggesting “some kind of rally in Manchester” as a possible action on the strike day.
Anglia ‘solid’ & South Central unit reps say ‘Good’
From down in the South Central Division, Darren Butcher reported that “every rep I’ve spoken to this evening has come back and said: ‘Good’ when I told them about the strike. This is because they can see what’s happening in their localities with the company ploughing through these revisions – exactly as Dave Ward was saying earlier. The feeling seems to be they’re getting it in the neck from their members every day and they’re glad now that we’re doing something about the executive action.”
Darren has gate meetings planned for next week and a divisional meeting in the next couple of days to make further plans and preparations. “There’s so much frustration over this and we’ll also be spreading the word about the Friday Facebook broadcast,” he said.
Steve Butts, over in Anglia, also felt that members were frustrated over the unagreed revisions and would back the call, saying: “I think members will feel that it’s needed to respond to pressures they’re feeling at the moment. Feelings have been very strong at the gate meetings we’ve been having and everyone understands that we’ve got to defend the principle of negotiation.
“We’re solid – we’ll do what we need to do – a 24-hour strike is the right call at this time.”
South West: ‘Angry’, Scotland: ‘Tremendous support’, Northern Ireland: ‘Roll on the 16th’
Kevin Beazer, South West Region secretary, told CWU News that he had heard of the strike call while travelling back from a divisional meeting, where there had been “lots of calls for us to do something about it” in regard to the unagreed revisions across the many workplaces.
“People were talking about revisions that won’t work, hours coming out and new delivery points coming on. They got rid of a load of planners and now they’re bringing them back as consultants. From reps, the point of view was a call for some action, that members are angry and that this is feeding through. There was nobody in that meeting who was not having revisions. I’m hearing that even some local managers are saying the revisions won’t work – but they’re frightened to speak out,” Kevin continued.
Tam Dewar, divisional rep for Scotland, tells us: “We’re already up and running in preparation for the strike” and that “there’s tremendous support up here” both from members and also from right across the political spectrum too. “We’ve even had Tory MSPs on the phone to reps,” he said. “From the gate meetings we’ve had, people understand all of these issues and what it’s all about. We’re all on board 100 per cent for the strike on the 16th.” Tam praised the work of the Scotland CWU secretary Craig Anderson and mentioned the highly successful rally the union held last month outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, saying: “It was a great day and we’re thinking of something perhaps in Glasgow at the Donald Dewar Steps for the strike day potentially – it’s something we’re talking about.”
From over the Irish Sea, Fra Martin says that the resumption of action “was well overdue and members will welcome it. We’re still up for it over here and still resolute.” He says that he has been travelling around the Six Counties holding workplace meetings and that the membership as a whole is voicing support for the union’s stance and on track to deliver a significant YES vote in the re-ballot, while management actions are “getting people’s hackles up” in the workplaces.
“It’s massive support all together – we can’t wait for the 16th.”