Postal workers set to join strike

THOUSANDS of postal workers from Essex are set to join a nationwide strike this week in a row over jobs, pay and services.

James Hore

THOUSANDS of postal workers from Essex are set to join a nationwide strike this week in a row over jobs, pay and services.

The Communication Workers Union announced yesterday that more than 12,000 staff could take part in the industrial action, saying “serious and growing problems” needed resolving.

Dave Ward, the union's deputy general secretary, said: “We have renewed our offer of a three-month no-strike deal to Royal Mail in return for meaningful talks over modernisation.

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“The current cuts and ever-increasing workloads on a shrinking workforce cannot continue.

“Pressure and stress is at breaking point for postal workers.”

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The union accused Royal Mail of abandoning the final phase of a deal which ended a national strike in 2007, claiming there had been no negotiations over changes to working practices.

Staff from Essex are joining colleagues from London and across the country.

The union will also deliver protest letters to the Royal Mail's chief executive, Adam Crosier, and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, and will release thousands of balloons over Royal Mail workplaces in Essex as part of a day of action.

The union said it was receiving an “ever-growing'” number of requests for industrial action from postal workers across the country.

Around 400 ballot requests have already been made and Mr Ward warned that without progress the dispute would turn into a national strike.

But Royal Mail has condemned the strike plans and said more than 90% of workers would still be delivering post on Friday.

In a statement, the firm said: “Any moratorium on further change at Royal Mail - at a time when we urgently need to accelerate the pace of change in the face of a 10% decline in UK mail volumes - can only be a step backwards and can only hurt our customers.

“The CWU is objecting to changes agreed by its own leadership under the 2007 pay modernisation deal, signed in the presence of the TUC, and which are already implemented by many of our people and working well in Royal Mail offices throughout the UK.

“That agreement was designed to give the business the flexibility to modernise and change, as we clearly must do if Royal Mail is to secure its future.'

Royal Mail accused the CWU of attempting to "halt the modernisation of the mail business' and resisting new technology and working practices.

The company said: "The CWU has issued instructions to their branch representatives in London and elsewhere not to co-operate with Royal Mail over the introduction of new equipment and changes in working practices - so, in spite of their leaders' public statements supporting the modernisation Royal Mail needs, they have an active union policy of opposing change on the ground.”

It urged the CWU to co-operate with implementing the 2007 agreement.

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