When two postal workers in Royal Mail’s Bangor Delivery Office refused to carry out an additional job at the request of their manager, they were handed a suspended dismissal in September.
After an appeal process where senior management saw nothing wrong with punishing workers for sticking to their terms and conditions, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) NI East Branch called out their 70 members in the Bangor Delivery Office. Strike action was overwhelmingly supported, with over 40 on the picket lines from early in the morning on 23 and 25 February. Manager strike-breakers had to be brought in from England and Scotland to maintain any level of service.
Strike action has forced Royal Mail to offer a resolution which was unanimously accepted by workers at a gate meeting on 1 March. The union has won an important victory and reaffirmed that their members were correct not to carry out extra tasks and to reject bullying management techniques.
However, Bangor is not an isolated example, as Royal Mail workers in Wythenshawe Delivery Office took strike action in the same week for very similar reasons. Rather than isolated bad apples, the fact that these incidents were escalated to senior operations managers who upheld the local decisions indicates this is now a Royal Mail policy to increase workloads and victimise workers where they think they can get away with it.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party must call for the ending of bullying management tactics in preparation for renationalisation. It is the fight of postal workers which could transform Royal Mail and raise the question of taking back the Post Office, Parcelforce and BT as a publicly-owned communications sector, run for people’s needs rather than stock market greed.
By Paddy Meehan, CWU (personal capacity)