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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 May 2007

Postal workers

Vote 'yes' for strike action

POSTAL WORKERS are being balloted for industrial action for the first time since a ballot defeat 312 years ago.

Gary Clark, sub area rep, Scotland No 2 Branch, Communication Workers' Union (CWU)

Over that last three years we have seen over 30,000 jobs losses. This has put a greater workload onto postal workers. But it's clear this is not enough for Royal Mail management, during the latest negotiations they stated that postal workers are unproductive and overpaid!

Their latest "full and final offer" is 2.5% or a one-off payment of 600, across all grades except admin grades, who have no offer at all.

There are massive strings attached. We must accept a savings package of 360 million. This will be made up by removing all nightshifts from delivery offices. It includes a "review" of the weekend operation in the mail centres, in other words the ending of weekend working and the job losses that go with it.

They also want a major reduction in staffing during the summer. Where we have six staff there will only be five. Staff will have to absorb all short-term sick absences without any pay where at present we get paid overtime.

Also proposed is a change of start times to after 6am, so postal workers will lose a shift allowance of 12 a week.

They also want "flexibility", in other words be prepared to do anything they want and allow the casualisation of the industry. Their new productivity scheme means, if an office can save any money over the Royal Mail budget, the members can receive a 50% share.

Royal Mail chairman Alan Leighton has written to all workers stating that there is no more money and his senior managers have agreed a pay freeze. That is quite easy if you are on 100,000s a year, or your name is Adam Crozier (chief executive), whose earnings last year were over 1,000,000.

Over the last two years his bonuses alone totalled 2.8 million, compared to a postal worker's basic pay of 16,500 a year.

It's clear that the union must fight for an above-inflation pay rise with no strings as a step to get us to the average wage. We are in the bottom 25% of earners in Britain but Royal Mail still believe we are overpaid.

We are facing a dispute not only over pay but over the future of our industry. If Royal Mail get away with their business plan it will mean over 40,000 job losses, attacks on our pension, closures of mail centres and delivery offices and a wage cut in real terms.

Over the last few weeks Royal Mail have been forced to change their offer. This has been because they know that the mood is completely different to the last ballot. This is shown by the number of unofficial disputes up and down the country, where postal workers are saying loud and clear that they will not take any more attacks. This mood must now be harnessed by our national leadership for a massive 'yes' vote.

The ballot timetable is: ballot papers dispatched 22 May, result announced 7 June.

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In The Socialist 17 May 2007:

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Baguley: Socialists are left opposition to New Labour

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FBU conference: Preparing for future battles


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