02 February 2006

No post for most of Belfast as mail strike rumbles on

Belfast Telegraph

By Brian Hutton
02 February 2006

Mail will not be delivered to most of Belfast today after talks to end an unofficial strike at Royal Mail broke down.

Union representatives and management ended negotiations after about an hour late yesterday afternoon without any resolution to the dispute in sight.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is now demanding an independent review of Royal Mail practices in Northern Ireland before its members return to work.

Deliveries will be disrupted in north, west, south and central Belfast as up to 400 union members continue their stoppage for a third day.

It is now feared the walkout could disrupt the delivery of 11-plus results to schoolchildren in the city on Saturday morning.

However, it is believed that contingency plans have been put in place in an effort to ensure the results are distributed efficiently.

The row over disciplinary procedures dates back to September of last year but came to a head this week after an alleged incident involving a postman serving the greater Shankill area.

It is understood that the Royal Mail worker claimed he had been bullied by management and was to be disciplined for keeping a record of the alleged harassment.

"A proposal was put forward by our representatives that may have resolved the matter but was rejected by Royal Mail," said CWU branch secretary Eoin Davey last night.

"What our members wish for at this moment is for a body independent of Royal Mail to conduct a completely independent employee and industrial relations review of Royal Mail in Northern Ireland.

"If Royal Mail say they have done nothing wrong then they have nothing to fear from an independent review."

Mr Davey suggested Lord Sawyer as a possible intermediary to resolve the current problems.

The former general secretary of the Labour Party was called in to improve relations between workers and managers at Royal Mail in 2001 after a series of wildcat walkouts.

"If we get an assurance that there will be an independent review our members will return to work," said Mr Davey.

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