Union meeting to decide on next steps to take
Residents and businesses are bracing themselves for further disruption in the postal service, following the mail union's ballot for national strike action.
Last week, postal workers voted by 76 percent in favour of strike action to protect jobs, pay and services, the Communication Workers Union announced. The postal union says no dates have yet been set for a national strike but the next steps will be decided at a meeting on Monday (October 12).
This weekend saw several deliveries in the W12 area on Saturday and some deliveries even took place on Sunday. Postal workers taking further industrial action this week are mainly concentrated in parts of London with a SW postcode.
But after weeks of strike and disruption in west London, local businesses are already feeling the strain: "In a time of tough economic challenges, the postal strike adds further pressures to local businesses. The postal service is paramount, supporting businesses of all sizes to operate effectively and to their maximum levels. The lack of this service, for however long in duration, will ultimately have a negative effect on their bottom line. The objective now must be for a solution to be discussed, negotiated and agreed upon so that normal service can resume." Matthew Sims, General Manager, Hammersmith & Fulham Chamber of Commerce
Oliver Thomas, manager at Northfields estate agents in Askew Road said staff had found a way to beat the strike: “We're delivering a lot of stuff by hand. It's quicker for us to take things round ourselves. The strike is madly annoying more than anything else,” he said.
The Royal Mail says it is has to make changes to modernise the postal service. It says mail volumes are down by around 10% year on year as competition from email and the web accelerates, and adds that every 1% decline costs Royal Mail around £70 million in lost revenues.
It has attacked the CWU’s strike ballot as “totally unjustified”, and says it is an attempt by the union to “undermine the modernisation which is essential if Royal Mail is to face up to the reality of a rapidly changing marketplace”.
“Although 90% of our network continues to operate normally, we apologise for the continuing impact of the disrupted mail services within, and posting into London. We are doing all we can to maintain services, minimise delays and keep customers informed about the consequences of strike action on mail services. Last week we utilised several thousand of our managers from across the country to deliver mail to customers and to reduce the delays in the most affected offices, where industrial action continues to cause disruption to mail services,” the Royal Mail says.
But in an increasingly bitter dispute, the CWU's deputy general secretary, accused the Royal Mail of damaging the service: "Royal Mail has never really been engaged in modernisation. They've been running down the business, running down services and cutting costs and it's that business plan that postal workers have overwhelmingly rejected,” said David Ward.
But offering a glimmer of hope, he added: “There's still an opportunity to reach an agreement before any national strike action takes place.”
October 12, 2009