Post strike wildcats spread

Wildcat strikes at Royal Mail have spread across London and the rest of the UK this week.

Submitted by Mike Harman on October 12, 2007

Almost all offices in North, East, South East and South West London have walked out, along with Liverpool; Edinburgh, Chester, Fife, Livingston, Peterborough, Dalkeith, Bristol, Leicester, Grangemouth, Kilwinning and Kent, also on unofficial strike. Glasgow walked out earlier in the week but have returned to work.

The strikes are in response to management introductions of later start and finish times which affect most delivery offices. These have been brought in by Executive Action, bypassing union negotiations and angered many staff. Mail centres and distribution centres have also been affected as drivers who refused to cross picket lines were suspended, and these back office functions will be affected by similar measures themselves, to be introduced later in the month.

CWU talks with Royal Mail broke down last night, and are due to resume today with little news of any concessions. Allan Leighton and Adam Crozier have said if a deal is not reached by 4pm today, Royal Mail will withdraw from talks. Although the two official 48 hour strikes were in different weeks, Royal Mail has taken four days pay out of the wage packet of postal workers, in a clear attempt to starve them back to work. Wildcats in at least some offices have been provoked by management intimidation, as posties who refused to work to the new times were threatened with pay deductions and prosecution for "wilful delay of mail". This could therefore be a deliberate upping of the stakes by Royal Mail, although the current extent of the wildcats means it could backfire on them if yet more offices walk out in support.

This week, Gordon Brown used Prime Minister's Questions to attack the strikers, saying they should accept the existing deal (a pay cut and a complete change in working practices that would destroy the service as it currently is). The media attention on the strike has increased this week as a result of the wildcats, but there is still no sign of other public sector unions entering the fray - many of whose members are facing similar pay cuts, but with ballot results on strike action not expected until the end of this month or next.