08 February 2006

PSNI tackle striking postal workers

BN.ie

08/02/2006 - 18:08:55

Police were called today to stop Belfast postal workers staging a wildcat strike from blocking the entrance to Northern Ireland’s main sorting office in Co Antrim.

Royal Mail commercial manager David Peden said they had no alternative but to call the police.

“A number of people in the picket line chose to block the road into and out of the Northern Ireland Mail Centre. They were repeatedly asked to step aside and unfortunately didn’t do so.

“At that stage we had no option but to involve the PSNI and they came along and were able to get a peaceful resolution. The pickets moved aside and we were able to open up the road again,” he said.

The Police Service confirmed that the pickets moved without protest when requested to do so.

Only a handful of workers at the Royal Mail centre at Mallusk have joined Belfast colleagues in the strike which has been going on for over a week.

Royal Mail managers from England have been shipped to Belfast to keep a skeleton delivery service going for businesses as the strike shows no sign of ending.

Members of the Communication Workers Union again ignored a call from their trade union to call off the strike, which has been going on since January 31.

But there was good news for Royal Mail when an effort to spread the illegal strike to Derry failed.

A CWU representative in the city said that “under no circumstances” would they strike while the action remained unofficial.

As the strike continued there were claims a non-striker in Belfast had received a threatening phone call at home.

The Police Service said they had received notification of the call, received on February 1, by a member of Royal Mail staff.

It was reported to police “for information”, said a spokeswoman, but no investigation had been launched.

Royal Mail, meanwhile, said about 60 managers from England had volunteered to work in Belfast until the strike was over.

They were working with local management staff in trying to get as much mail sorted and delivered to business and small businesses as possible.

But a spokeswoman said: “It doesn’t change the fact that services are being seriously disrupted.”

The strike had stopped normal deliveries to North, West and South Belfast and all Special Delivery items. No mail posted in Belfast is being processed and items posted anywhere in Northern Ireland for delivery in Britain, the Irish Republic and internationally are not being dispatched.

Incoming mail should get through – except in the three Belfast areas affected.

The Social Security Agency announced that those affected by the strike who usually received benefit payments through the post should collect them from their nearest post office on Friday.

The strike was sparked last week at Belfast’s main Tomb Street delivery office over claims of harassment of north Belfast postal workers in the workplace and concerns over the disciplinary procedures followed.

Royal Mail said today they had just got the results of an internal, confidential and anonymous Have Your Say survey of all Royal Mail staff which was undertaken on an annual basis.

“The results of those of Belfast North were of particular interest – 96% of those surveyed in Belfast North say they have not been bullied or harassed by management.

“Also, of those surveyed, 75% stated that they felt their manager is approachable and listens to them,” said the spokeswoman.

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