Workers who fear for their future at Royal Mail say they will work hard to minimise disruption at Hemel Hempstead’s sorting super centre following strike action next Monday.
The 24-hour walk-out called by the Communications Workers Union aims to protect postal workers’ jobs, terms and conditions and secure a pay rise.
Royal Mail’s recent 60 per cent sell-off is thought to have cost taxpayers up to £750 million due to under-valued shares being snapped up by big business investors.
It says its proposed three-year deal to appease workers is as long as, or longer, than most employers would offer.
Union representative John Thwaites, who has worked for Royal Mail for 35 years and is currently based at the huge Home Counties North mail sorting centre on the town’s industrial estate, said: “We are fearful for our terms and conditions and our pay in the next two years. Ordinary postmen and women working in that mail centre are really worried about their futures.”
While the company’s pay and protections deal offers an above-inflation pay rise for the next year, it does not guarantee a rise for the following two. John is also concerned that, should more of the company’s assets and services be sold or outsourced to private companies, their employment terms and conditions could be affected.
He added: “This is not a fight against our customers or the general public. It is a fight to protect the pride of the job – if our terms and conditions are seriously impacted upon, a lot of people will look to leave.
“That would mean the service will take a nosedive.”
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We are very disappointed by the announcement that CWU members have voted in favour of taking industrial action. Any action, or the threat of disruption, is damaging to our business, especially in the run-up to Christmas, our busiest time.”
John explained the strike would undoubtedly create a backlog at the Maylands super centre, but that he and colleagues will work hard to clear it as soon as possible from Tuesday.
Royal Mail remains in talks with the union but John understands the national walkout will be staged on Monday for a full day, although a start time has not yet been confirmed. Further action, including boycotting competitors’ mail, is also under consideration.
The CWU has also called on government business secretary Vince Cable to resign over the part-privatisation scandal, deemed by union leader Billy Hayes as “unnecessary”.