Belfast postal workers wildcat strike - news archive, 2006

Archive of the day-by-day reports and updates, as well as background information on the victorious wildcat strike action of Belfast postal workers from 31 January to 17 February 2006.

Submitted by libcom on February 8, 2006

Background to the strike
On 31 January, 200 postal workers at the Tomb Street depot in Belfast walked out. Their wildcat strike action, not approved by the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), was in response to management bullying; in particular disciplinary action taken against two postal workers in the Shankill area, one of whom is believed to have been further victimised as a result of keeping a diary of harassment.

The number of postal workers joining the unofficial action grew to 400, then on 3 February workers at the Mallusk sorting office walked out in solidarity with their colleagues, bringing deliveries in the city almost to a halt.

Management rejected an offer from the striking posties to deliver 11 plus exam results on Saturday 4 of February and immediately reinstate the strike - instead Royal Mail brought in 50 managers to do the deliveries.

The workers are demanding an independent review of managements' tactics and disciplinary procedures; the management say they will only negotiate once they have returned to work; something the CWU has ordered them to do.

In fighting against bullying management and a timid union bureaucracy, the Belfast postal workers are standing up for themselves, for each other and for all working people and bring Catholic and Protestant workers together in common struggle. On 7 February even Ireland On Line's Business news stated that the "Communications Workers Union has condemned the wildcat strike, but both Protestant and Catholic postmen are ignoring the union's leadership and standing shoulder-to-shoulder in an otherwise fiercely divided city."

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Submitted by Steven. on February 3, 2016

We've had some comments on this on the working class history Facebook page. This was one message we got from a participant, who agreed for it to be posted anonymously:

regarding the big postal strike in belfast 2006, I was part of the walkout. to be honest not much has changed as a result of it, however the solidarity shown those three weeks was immense. Protestants and Catholics together walked up the shankill road (loyalist) and down the falls road (republican) all as one unit and were supported by both sides of the fence equally. that was something I thought could never happen at that time in this country.

There were also some comments from former branch union activists, who wanted to point out that the branch didn't repudiate the action:

Working Class History, to say that the "struggle was condemned by the union" is not wholly accurate. I was the Branch Secretary at the time and i did participate in the struggle along with the postal workers' and was called a renegade Trade Unionist for doing so. As referred to earlier, Royal Mail hand delivered (by manager) a letter to me and to the homes of 3 others late at night. In essence, threatening to level the costs of the unofficial strike against me and the 3 other Branch Officials if we did not convince our members to return to work. We never succumbed to these Royal Mail threats and we never abandoned the Postal Workers'. A settlement was finally reached with Royal Mail where they conceded to our demands for an independent Employee & Industrial Relations Review and gave assurrances of no victimisation when Postal Workers' returned to work. Royal Mail also gave an undertaking to remove the threat of legal action against 3 Branch Officials in terms of holding them financially liable for costs incurred as a result of the strike. Royal Mail point blank refused to remove the legal threat against me for the part they claim i played in the strike and indeed up until this day, 10 years later, never have removed that threat. Therefore, i would appreciate if Working Class History would not implicate me in condemning the Postal Workers Struggle?????? I never did!