Wait a minute Mr Postman

Liam McNulty - News Reporter 2 November 2009

Cambridge faces another weekend of industrial action as Royal Mail and Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) have so far failed to come to an agreement over the future `direction of the postal service. Last week an estimated 120,000 postmen went on strike over pay and conditions, and a similar number are expected to stage a three-day stoppage from Thursday if a deal is not reached.

Tensions mounted over the weekend as Adam Crozier, the Chief Executive of Royal Mail, told the CWU “to, in the nicest possible way, shut up” and get on with talks during his appearance on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.Mr Crozier, who last year earned £3 million in salary, bonuses and pension benefits, has come under fire from the CWU general secretary, Billy Hayes, who has accused him of being “in denial about the impact the changes are having on people’s lives.”

Speaking on BBC1’s the Politics Show, Mr. Hayes reiterated his call for the independent arbitration service, ACAS, to become involved and expressed hope that an agreement could be reached this week.

From the outset there has been anger over Royal Mail’s decision to employ 30,000 temporary workers on the run up to Christmas, a figure which is twice the usual amount. This has prompted the CWU to accuse Royal Mail of ‘strike-breaking’, and the union has threatened to seek a High Court injunction to block the move.The CWU argues that their fears are supported by a Royal Mail document leaked to BBC Newsnight which expressed a desire to “deliver the necessary 2009 changes with or without union engagement.”

Despite these setbacks, however, the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, who is brokering talks between the two sides, said on Monday night: “We have had useful discussions today and the talks are being adjourned to allow further work to be done overnight on some of the issues involved.”

Speaking to The Cambridge Student (TCS), Tom Woodcock, the Secretary of Cambridge & District Trade Union Council, expressed support for the strike. “Everybody who values public services needs to get behind the postal strike. Gordon Brown and the Royal Mail bosses want to further break up our service and sell it off to pay for the bank bailouts and pave the way for cuts in other public services. This will lead to a more expensive and worse service and make no sense economically or environmentally.

“The postal workers are striking for an expanded and better service for the public and to preserve jobs and working conditions for future employees. The Trades Council is 100% behind those on strike and has organized a day of action this coming Saturday in order to collect money for those losing pay in the dispute. “

In Cambridge, postmen and women have expressed concern over plans to replace delivery bicycles with trolleys and vans. Speaking to Cambridge News, Paul Moffat, eastern region secretary for the CWU said: “If you’ve ever tried driving in Cambridge in busy traffic, you’ll know that plan is totally ludicrous.”

TCS attempted to contact Royal Mail management but they did not return a call for comment. However, in a previous press statement Royal Mail’s Managing Director, Mark Higson, said that the strike was “an appalling and unjustified attack on customers and showed a reckless disregard for everyone who depends on the company.”

Liam McNulty – News Reporter