23 February 2006

Post strike: more action is possible


by Roisin McManus

Postal workers are seriously considering further industrial action, according to a member of the Communications Workers Union.

A report is being sent to the Communications Workers Union headquarters requesting that a ballot on industrial action takes place.

Eoin Davey, Branch Secretary of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), said that postal workers are still unhappy.

Postal workers began unofficial strike action at the end of January amid allegations of bullying. The action ended last weekend.

“Industrial action is under serious consideration,” said Mr Davey.
“I plan to send a report to the CWU headquarters requesting that a ballot be held on further industrial action.

“Workers are being treated in a degrading way and are being victimised.
“CWU members are irate and angry at this time,” he added.

Meanwhile a local postman has said he fears that it will take around six weeks to clear the backlog following the recent postal strike.

The West Belfast postman said that this is due to the fact that agency workers are being used to help with the backlog rather than giving those postal workers who went on strike overtime to clear the mail.

Those who went on strike are not allowed to claim unlimited overtime.

However those who did not take part are allowed to claim unlimited overtime.
“I can’t see this backlog being cleared in less than six weeks,” said the postman.

“If Royal Mail let the workers do overtime this could be cleared in a week and a half, instead they are getting agency workers to do the work and they don’t know the areas and are inexperienced.

“Not giving us the overtime is pettiness on the part of Royal Mail and means that the public are not getting their post,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said that the company have brought in additional resources including 150 temporary staff and 80 additional vans to help clear the backlog.

She said that temporary staff would receive training before taking on any work and it is estimated that the backlog will take three to four weeks to clear, adding that Royal Mail will do everything they can to complete this ahead of schedule.

“We have explained to employees who chose to take unofficial strike action that they can continue to claim whatever ordinary levels of overtime they would normally work, but they will not be allowed to claim unlimited levels of overtime,” said the spokeswoman.

“This is not the case for employees who worked through the strike.

“Royal Mail is asking people from across its operations to assist in getting the service back to normal. Our plans to clear the backlog are different to what some employees might have expected. Nevertheless, we expect everyone to be completely focused on this task as it is no less than our customers expect and deserve."

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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