By Andy Yorke
Post Office workers are preparing to strike on 3 May after a massive 97.3% vote for industrial action over pay. They’re right to be angry.
After a year of stonewalling the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over their members’ 2021-2022 pay claim, Post Office bosses responded to the huge yes vote with a measly 2% pay offer and a £250 one off payment, as usual pro-rata for part-timers. But with no backdated pay the company is effectively skipping last year and just offering a pay cut for 2022-2023!
This just doesn’t cut it in the face of high inflation. CWU Post Office Supply Chain area rep Alan Robertson slammed postal bosses, arguing, ‘for them to turn round and say we’re not getting a pay rise, this year, when everything’s going through the roof – it’s not a pay freeze – it’s a pay cut.’ Exactly – a 7% pay cut in real terms with the RPI inflation measure at over 9%. Workers have no choice but to strike. As the CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said to PO bosses, ‘You provoked this strike, now it’s going to happen.’
Around a thousand postal counter workers, supply chain drivers, call centre and admin staff will be on strike on 3 May. A one-day strike is a start and will hit the network hard, closing all 114 Crown Post Offices with no cash deliveries or collections from the 11,500 sub-post offices around the country.
But workers will have to quickly escalate the action if they want to force management to cough up. The CWU should be naming further dates now, going up to three days, four days, then all out. It should also name the pay claim it is going for – Post Office workers need at least 10% and a deal on backpay that nullifies 2021’s rising cost of living.
Alluding to the PO’s recent legal battle to defend the indefensible – the hundreds of postmasters that were falsely disciplined, sacked or even imprisoned for stealing, due to a new faulty computer system – Furey called on the Post Office to pay up:
‘Perhaps if the senior bosses had not squandered over a billion pounds on wrongly prosecuting postmasters, or perhaps if they had not given away lucrative Crown Office operations to private retailers, or maybe even if they did not continually lavish enormous sums on themselves – maybe the finances would be in better shape.’
But the fact is the state-owned company has been profitable for years and 2% is a kick in the teeth when workers have worked through the pandemic keeping the network going.
Post Office workers can build for a maximum turnout on the picket lines and use them to discuss what kind of offer and what kind of strike they want, electing delegates to strike committees to coordinate these demands and ensure rank & file control of the strike itself.