More postal workers join strikes

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The Independent Online

Fresh strikes by postal workers were "solidly supported" today as moves began to resolve a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and services.

Members of the Communication Workers Union in London and staff who drive Royal Mail lorries across the country were the latest to stage industrial action.

The union said it expected the strikes to hit postal services, although the Royal Mail insisted that the delivery of A-level results tomorrow will not be affected.

The union launched a fresh attack on the Royal Mail today, accusing managers of "disregarding" concerns over cuts to jobs and services and a lack of willingness to negotiate on modernisation.

The CWU also accused Royal Mail of abusing work measurement systems to increase workloads to "breaking point".

Deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: "Postal workers are more productive than ever, handling more mail with a diminishing workforce. Stress is now reaching breaking point while morale is at an all-time low.

"The company is rigging the work measurement systems to overload postal workers. Budgets are cut year on year and delivery rounds are then overloaded to match that budget.

"These systems were introduced to accurately determine workloads but Royal Mail are rigging the systems to ensure they meet their panic-driven cost cuts.

"The company knows the workload is unacceptable but are bullying people to attempt to tackle impossible workloads."

The Royal Mail denied the claims and insisted the union was refusing to co-operate with modernisation, in breach of a deal which ended the last national postal strike two years ago.

Mr Ward said talks had now been offered, adding: "The offer of talks is welcomed, but the company has to have real dialogue. To this point, all they do is lecture us on their plans. In the meantime, they continue to impose cuts and unacceptable workloads and so the strikes will continue.

"The bullying, managerial culture in the company is now reaching very dangerous proportions and we fear for the wellbeing and safety of our members."

The union claimed that increasing numbers of workers are facing unfair conduct action for not completing work tasks demanded by managers.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has rejected union pleas for the Government to intervene in the long-running dispute, which threatens to escalate into a national strike in the autumn.