Post strike causes chaos for small businesses

Union representing 20,000 Royal Mail workers announces more action

Small businesses, already struggling to cope during the recession, have been left "facing a nightmare" over continuing strike action by postal workers, a leading business association warned yesterday.

The warning came as the Communication Workers Union, representing around 20,000 Royal Mail employees taking part in strike action, announced a further series of 24-hour strikes in London, the south and east of England and some areas in the north this week.

Workers accused Royal Mail of reneging on promises over a modernisation programme which would lead to job losses and changes in working patterns. On Thursday the CWU will decide whether to hold a nationwide strike.

The British Chambers of Commerce said disruption to post deliveries had dragged on for too long and called for the Government to "get a grip" on the situation. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) added that the strike, which has left some businesses waiting for mail for 10 days, had left small businesses having to cope with cheque delays, penalty charges and a rise in customer complaints.

"The combination of high volumes of undelivered mail and the uncertainty as to when post will arrive has made this summer's strikes a nightmare for businesses," said Helen Hill, director of policy for the LCCI. "This dispute must be brought to an immediate end so that firms can get on with the real job of getting through the worst recession in a generation."

Sandra Senior, financial controller for Chainbow, a residential management company in Waterloo, south London, said their debt recovery department was inundated with calls from residents who were worried that late payments would put their homes at risk.

"The strike has had a huge effect and has put a lot of pressure on our debt recovery department. We collect service charges and they've been inundated with calls from upset residents," she said. "Their fear is that if it doesn't get paid we'll go to their mortgage company and their house is at risk. Our fear is whether residents are being truthful. It drags out the whole debt process.

"We deal with old people and others who are paying thousands of pounds in service charges – they don't like electronic. We also send out pre-legal notices, which people don't receive or are delayed. Some cheques we've waited 10 days for."

According to LCCI figures, the last national strike in 2007 cost London businesses £305m. Royal Mail said the decision by workers to continue striking was "wholly irresponsible" and aimed at derailing modernisation.

Royal Mail said managers were being drafted in to deal with the backlog of mail. Outside one sorting office in Worple Road, Wimbledon, this weekend managers were photographed sorting mail on the street with vans unable to get through.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said: "Mail has been delayed and it does damage confidence in us. But in areas where there have been strikes we've sent in managers to sort through post and can provide several hundred. We're getting through the backlog. We put it at four to five million items."

Nicko Williamson, managing director of eco-taxi firm, Climatecars, said the postal strike was causing considerable pressure on cash flows.

"We had £20,000 waiting to be delivered, in cheques, last week. We had two days of post. Today £8,000 arrived," he said.

"We also have time-sensitive documents like the parking tickets we receive daily, which need to be processed quickly. They're not easy to negotiate. In addition we have some upset suppliers whose cheques from us have failed to get through. We're getting first- class post dated the end of August.

"I understand [the workers'] point of view but it's so much more difficult in very challenging economy."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power