Communication Workers Union (CWU) members in Royal Mail and BT took coordinated strike action on 31 August as they continued their respective disputes with the bosses over pay. See ‘Historic action by Royal Mail, BT and Post Office workers’ at for more and reports below. CWU in Royal Mail are taking further action on 8-9 September.

North East England

We visited five CWU picket lines across Newcastle and Gateshead. The main point being made by strikers was the need to step up action to coordinated action or a general strike.

One of the pickets told us he had waited in anticipation when the TUC tweeted they were going to make an important announcement – surely they were going to announce a general strike? In the event, the TUC launched a campaign and petition. The striker commented: “It’s hardly storming the palace!”

Another said the TUC and unions have missed a trick, they should have organised coordinated action on the day the Tory leader is announced which would have been a shot across the bows.

The strikers are clearly receiving overwhelming public support. People have taken trays of sandwiches and bags of pastries to give to them. At one of the Gateshead picket lines we visited, alongside cars, taxis and buses tooting in support, even the police were tooting and flashing their blue lights in support as they passed!

Elaine Brunskill


The current situation was summed up succinctly by one Parcelforce worke: “Look at the utilities, we sold them off and look at the state they’re in now. Same with rail, we sold it all off and now they’re all out on strike and here we have Royal Mail, it’s been privatised and what do you know? It’s all about making money for the shareholders.”

Ryan Aldred


One worker told us: “Keir Starmer is like another Blair. Labour would be better than the Tories but then getting punched in the face once is better than getting punched in the face twice.”

Tom Baldwin

Blackwood, Wales

The Blackwood Royal Mail picket line is right on the main road and was met with constant beeps of support. A young picket told me: “I don’t like capitalism. The people who create the coin, we need to look after them. Half the people can’t afford their house. I can’t see my son getting on the ladder.”

Mariam Kamish

Waltham Cross, Herts

Just two agency workers crossed the 26 August picket line. After five minutes, one of them came back out again and left. On the 31 August picket line, we found out he’d gone inside to ask the managers what was going on. When they explained that a strike was on, he told them that he didn’t want to be a part of their scabbing operation.

Ian Pattison

Enfield BT

“Some companies are asset strippers, but BT asset strip themselves”, striking workers told us. One thing that’s been sold off is the in-house mechanic. On the 31 August picket line, workers there had had their vans in the private mechanics for between nine weeks and three months. Outsourcing clearly doesn’t work.

Ian Pattison