‘What makes us less worthy than you?’ CWU striker asks Post Office bosses

Postal, Post Office (PO)

Glasgow Post Office worker poses powerful question to senior POL executives as hundreds walk out from delivery depots and cash handling centres in every part of the nation…

‘Angry’, ‘disrespected’ and ‘insulted’ were the most common feelings expressed by striking Supply Chain and Admin workers on pickets today, with this third bout of action impacting cash accounting, as well as those crucial cash deliveries and collections to and from circa 11,500 sub-post offices nationwide.

Reporting from a well-attended line in Glasgow, striker Victoria Reid said: “Everyone’s been in very good spirits today, the strike is strongly supported here and we’ve had loads of toots. There’s also a council workers’ dispute going on and they were giving us toots as well.”

Victoria told CWU News that members are angry with the senior management about how they have been treated, with particularly strong feelings stemming from the 2021 pay freeze.

“I think everyone feels totally disrespected,” she said, recalling the anxiety people were experiencing during the pandemic and that “we had to work right through. We all turned up 100 per cent while the whole country was locked down. It was a scary time.”

When asked what she would say to Post Office CEO Nick Read or his senior colleagues, Victoria said: “I’d ask: ‘What makes us less worthy than you? We are all trying to make this business a success, we all care about that, but it’s as if we don’t count’.”

Eddie Fitzsimmons, CWU rep at the Belfast depot, told us that the strike has “been 100 per cent supported here – nobody crossed the picket line.”

Staff at Northern Ireland’s only Post Office Supply Chain site are “fuming” at news that senior Post Office leaders are due to receive generous bonus payments, he continued, adding that they are asking how the Post Office can claim there is no money for a decent pay rise for the workforce when they can give bonuses to senior bosses.

“There is money there and members are angry.”

Over in the Midlands, Birmingham depot saw “a fantastic turnout on the picket line – the best we’ve had here,” according to unit rep Mark Smith.

“This third time out, the support is even stronger than it was at the start,” he said “and the people running the business need to realise how angry staff are.

“If I could send them a direct message, I’d say: ‘Come back to the table and get this sorted – staff are not going to give up’.”

Newcastle’s Keith Gibson reported that the action was rock-solid in his area, saying: “Determination is right up and we’ll be out again if there’s further action,” and adding that the union should consider stepping up the pressure on the management, in terms of the action.

Rob Jones in Swansea and Manchester’s Anthony Farrelly also told CWU News that their depots had been “100 per cent solid,” with Anthony making the point that “even a couple of new drivers who’ve not joined the CWU yet refused to cross the picket line here.”

Rob said that, at Swansea, “two managers went in, but they’ve refused to touch our work and they just carried out some security duties and then came out again – there was no trucking in or out today.

“Feelings are very strong and our members want to get this resolved and they want their fair pay rise. With £35 million profits, and the current rate of inflation, what they’ve offered us is a pay cut in real terms.”

Anthony agreed, saying: “Our members have been brilliant and we’ll stay strong.”

His words to the Post Office bosses were crystal clear: “You asked every one of us to go out in the pandemic, when nobody had any idea of the severity of what we were facing. We all went out and then you now tell us we’re not worth a pay rise. It’s disgraceful.”

Phil Gower led the line at the London depot in Canning Town, where strikers were joined by CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey and CWU outdoor secretary Mark Baulch.

Phil praised members for their support, saying: ‘A massive thanks to everyone striking today here and we’re doing the right thing and sticking together.

“Management were looking to see cracks appearing in our unity today, but what they’ve seen is a growing unity and determination.

“To Mr Read, I’d say: ‘You have a chance to right some of the wrongs that Paula Vennells* did and a golden opportunity to show your appreciation to staff and learn from mistakes.

‘You can still do it, it’s not too late – listen to your staff’.”

Summing up the day, Andy Furey told CWU News: “What our brilliant reps and activists from all of these depots and cash centres – and from the other units around the country – have done today is to send a loud and clear collective message to the Post Office that they just will not accept a real-terms pay cut. Our members are telling us and telling the Post Office leadership that his dispute will continue – and will step up – until they get the fair pay deal they deserve.”

Andy continued: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to put our members’ case to the viewing public when I was interviewed by Talk TV’s Julia Hartley-Brewer earlier today – and I made the point there as I’ve done many times that our Post Office members, as key workers, were part of the nationwide effort to keep the UK going during that horrible pandemic.

“Our members deserve proper financial recognition for that outstanding devotion to duty and now, with inflation running at over 11 per cent, they also deserve a pay rise that recognises the massive cost-of-living crisis that this represents.

“A massive thank you to every single member who has come out on strike today and also on Monday.

This union and its members will keep fighting – and together, we will win.”

* Ms Vennells was Mr Read’s predecessor as Post Office CEO