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."

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
  • 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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

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
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living