Postal workers vote on national strike

Small businesses count cost as huge backlog of mail builds up in sorting offices

The threat of a national post strike came a step closer yesterday as more than 120,000 postmen and women prepared to start voting on industrial action. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said ballot papers would be sent out today in its long-running row over pay, jobs and services.

The dispute has sparked a series of walkouts across the country over the past few months which has disrupted mail deliveries. With millions of letters and parcels sat undelivered in sorting offices, the CWU called a new ballot to decide whether or not to take all-out nationwide action. The result is due early next month.



Dave Ward, the CWU deputy general secretary, said: "Postal workers are striking to defend future services as well as for jobs and modern conditions. Royal Mail management has completely mishandled the situation.

"Disruption is hurting small businesses and other consumers, but postal workers are suffering more than anyone in the dispute. Small businesses stand to suffer more with reduced services in the future if Royal Mail does not reach a national agreement." In a surprise move, the chief executive of Royal Mail, Adam Crozier, wrote to newspaper editors in an attempt to quieten the rising unrest caused by what he called the "totally unjustified" launch of the ballot.

He said: "I want to stress that we are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of strikes on customers in those areas where the union has called strikes, and to do all we can to persuade the CWU to stop the action and get on with helping us to deliver the service on which so many depend. The position today is that around nine million items of mail are delayed – compared with the average daily mailbag of 75 million – with almost six million of those in London.

"However, we are very concerned about every single letter delayed and we apologise wholeheartedly to our customers for the difficulties caused by the CWU's strikes, and will of course continue to work hard to limit the disruption as much as we can." Hospitals have been forced to rearrange outpatient services because mail delays have caused many patients to miss appointments.

A spokesman for Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, south-west London, said: "We are telephoning patients whose appointments are within a short timeframe, and are sending letters by recorded delivery."

Several readers told The Independent their postman had claimed that sorting office workers were deliberately delaying particular items, such as gifts and rented DVDs, to cause maximum disruption.

Royal Mail said: "That would be a serious breach of [their] contracts."

Breaking the strike: White van man rides to the rescue

As the postal dispute escalates, Royal Mail has turned to "white van man" in an attempt to ease the effects of the strikes across Britain. Owing to the recession, there is no shortage of men with vans happy to come to the rescue.

Nader Moradie, 47, had been applying for 20 jobs a day since his computer services business folded last year – then he saw an advert on the internet. "They said they were looking for drivers with a van and insurance," he said. "I didn't have either, so I bought a van, went through a security check and then I started work."

Mr Moradie, from Archway, north London, has been clearing the capital's backlog of undelivered mail for almost two months. "I am self-employed, working almost six days a week, 12 hours a day," he said yesterday on his round in Wimbledon. "I am not making as much as when I had my own company, but I have a job when millions of people are unemployed."

His employer, CRT, was set up in 2002 when the delivery company Parcelforce allowed its drivers to work on a self-employed basis. CRT now has more than 100 drivers, and could do with more.

It is not the first time that Royal Mail, which cannot sub-contract work because of agreements with the union, has used CRT during a strike. The company's founder, Petar Ljubisic, said: "During the 2007 strike we cleared the whole SW4 depot in 10 days. The Royal Mail lot couldn't believe it. The unions hate us."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
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

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week