“Christmas is the time of giving and sharing love. Every postal worker standing on a cold December picket line will be delighted to receive that love and warmth from supporters.”
By Dan Hermitage, The Communication Workers’ Union
With Christmas just around the corner, the UK postal workers are bracing themselves for several days of strike action due to the Royal Mail continuing their ruthless attack on the job, contrary to what they might be telling the media. Posties remain united in the face of immediate workplace challenges and the longer term problems.
Most recently the CEO, Simon Thompson, went on live television to exclaim that “The CWU are trying to destroy Christmas.” The reality is that Thompson and co. are attempting to destroy, not just every Christmas from now on, but the job of the postal worker itself. The company has also publicly stated that “we will prioritise NHS letters,” however special deliveries and tracked parcels are the priority.
For the best part of two years, Postal Workers delivered throughout the pandemic. Risking our own lives and those of the ones closest to us, we battled through the emotional and mental challenges that this period caused. We provided parcels, medication and the test kits that supported the community. The Royal Mail Group are entirely discrediting this by their recent actions. Not just the fact that a pay rise in line with inflation isn’t anywhere near their agenda but also that they continue to attack our livelihoods.
It is clear that this calculated, destructive behaviour is designed to tear apart a 500 year old service. To allow letters to die on the vine whilst the more lucrative parcel industry brings the riches to those with a high volume of shares invested. There is also a strong belief of the CWU that Royal Mail bosses have been doubling as operatives at a recruitment firm which has the capability of hiring temporary staff to fill in for postal workers. Through the organisation Angard, an agency subsidiary of Royal Mail, they have “effectively their own permanent strike-breaking resource,” say the union.
The callus nature of the assault has caused mental health challenges for so many members that could have been wholly avoidable. The announcements of recalculating annual leave to reflect the days of work missed by strike action or the pay systems failing causing delays in pay (postal workers are still paid weekly) have meant parents re-arranging events with their children or renters having to negotiate with their landlords to pay late. The pressure is relentless.
The cold mornings, darker afternoons and earlier evenings are firmly in place now with parcel volumes growing and cards and presents starting to be delivered across the UK. Images circulating this week have shown the post piling up at Mail Centres following recent strikes and the company failing to have enough space to store it all. The posties are ready to deliver, the Royal Mail have the opportunity to let them. Hardly any member has crossed a picket line.
With extra work to be delivered, it’s seen in the faces of the red fleeced, orange coated, short ladened, heroes of Christmas. This is why it is more important than ever that members of the public, fellow activists and all those with a soft spot for the postie, stand alongside CWU members going on strike this December.
Find out where your local picket line is by speaking to your postie when they come to the door or use services such as Strike Map. Christmas is the time of giving and sharing love. Every postal worker standing on a cold December picket line will be delighted to receive that love and warmth from supporters.
Postal Workers countrywide enjoy delivering Christmas, our connection with the community at this time of year is unrivalled and magical. We want to be able to do this every year for as long as possible and we’ve been forced to sacrifice a few days this year, to enable this to continue into the future.
- Dan Hermitage is a Regional Disability Lead and Branch Equality Officer at The Communication Workers Union (CWU). You can follow Dan Hermitage on twitter here; and show your support for the CWU on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
- Show your support in person at picket lines across the country! Find your local picket on Strike Map.