Strike leaves mail chaos as union plans more stoppages

Barrie Clement,Labour Editor
Sunday 27 October 2013 03:39

Leaders of a postal strike in London yesterday are expected to stage further 24-hour walkouts to coincide with stoppages by tens of thousands of council workers.

Representatives of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and the public service union Unison, who are campaigning for a £4,000 London weighting for their members, are likely to co-ordinate further industrial action, including a walkout on 17 October, to put pressure on employers. Only one in 20 postmen and women walked through picket lines in Royal Mail offices in London.

Post office managers calculated that the strike by staff over London weighting cost the organisation £10m. Management said a week might be needed to clear the backlog.

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU, said yesterday's stoppage by 20,000 postal workers was well supported, and that his members would take further action if necessary. "The only way of settling this dispute is by sitting round the negotiating table.London is an international city with a world-class postal service, but it is funded by paying our members third-world wages," he said.

A spokesman for the Royal Mail said that the organisation's existing offer - which would give employees in inner London £3,784 and their colleagues in the suburbs £2,667 - was "final''. He said: "Further industrial action will achieve nothing ... [It] would simply cause more inconvenience to our customers, more financial loss to postmen and women, and financial damage to the Royal Mail.''

He said that Royal Mail was fined £7.5m by the industry regulator on Tuesday for failing to meet business targets. "We cannot afford to pay out any more because of disruption,'' he said.

About 4,000 managers tried to ensure that guaranteed special deliveries were made. They also collected mail from post boxes in busy commercial areas. Nearly 1,400 of London's 1,500 post offices were open because they are run by independent businesses.

Geoff Martin, London convenor of Unison, confirmed that he was in talks with the CWU over co-ordinating action. Unison's planned walkout on 16 October is the sixth stoppage in pursuit of a £4,000 increase in London allowance.

Mr Martin said: "We welcome a joint campaign with any union which is seeking decent London weighting for its members.''

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