24 February 2006

Sides hopeful after post meeting


Postal workers' representatives met with Royal Mail

The postal workers union and Royal Mail have held what they have both described as "constructive" talks on Thursday.

The meeting took place after the Communications Workers Union said it had authorised a ballot of its members in Belfast on official strike action.

Afterwards, a union representative said that he was hopeful enough progress had been made to avoid a ballot being held.

Royal Mail said both parties "are equally resolved to moving forward". More talks are expected on Friday.

"It was a constructive meeting and we have made good progress on selecting a third party to look at employee and industrial relations within Royal Mail in Belfast," the company said.

Thursday's talks had been arranged at the end of the unofficial strike action by postal workers.

Workers at Royal Mail's depot at Tomb Street in Belfast began an unofficial strike on 31 January after staff alleged harassment by managers.

Royal Mail denied the claims.

The strike ended on 17 February when Royal Mail reached an agreement with the Communication Workers Union.

The Communications Workers Union had accused Royal Mail of going back on the deal struck last week to end the unofficial industrial action.

CWU spokesperson Eoin Davey said Royal Mail were refusing to give unlimited overtime to workers who were out on strike.

He claimed that postal workers who were out on strike were being "victimised" and "treated differently" from their work colleagues who did not join the action.

In a statement on Thursday, the company said it still had not been informed that any ballot was taking place.

Gary Crawford, director of personnel for Royal Mail in Northern Ireland, said on Thursday: "As far as we are concerned, we are getting on with the business of what we agreed to do."

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