Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 13, June 4, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

Post Office Workers Strike over Pay

Photo: Messenger Newspapers

Post Office workers in their thousands struck work on Saturday, June 4, in co-ordinated action over pay and conditions. Communication Workers Union (CWU) members had voted overwhelmingly and decisively in support of strike action, with 97.3% in favour on a turnout of 70.2%.

A reported 114 Crown Post Offices - those directly owned by the private company - closed for 24 hours, while sub-post offices had no deliveries or collections of cash.

Workers and their union are angered by an arbitrary pay freeze in 2021-22 and a meagre 2% rise for the following year in a time of rising inflation. Workers demand control over their conditions.

Determined to weaken the strike, the company said: "Posters are displayed which show where the nearest alternative branches are located..."

Severely-impacted branches are larger ones, often located on high streets, which are directly owned by the Post Office itself.

Around 3,500 members of staff are involved in the dispute. A strike already took place at the start of May, and further walkouts are planned for Monday, June 6.

The CWU said that Post Office managers insist on a pay freeze for 2021-22 "despite the company generating a profit for the last two years during the pandemic from the efforts of their key worker employees".

"Insultingly, Post Office has offered just a 2% pay increase - plus a £250 one-off payment (pro-rata for part-timers) for 2022-23," said a CWU spokesperson.

Post Office workers were a key sector of recognised essential workers during the pandemic, who made many sacrifices and were thanked for their contributions.

The union said this offer was not enough to keep up with rapid increases in the cost of living, which is currently rising at 7% a year. Post Office Postal Assistants - a significant sector of the workforce - currently earn less than £24,000 per year. If management strictly followed government policy, these workers would have received a wage increase of at least £250, yet they have not.

Union assistant secretary Andy Furey said: "Post Office management are insisting they are simply following government policy on public sector pay policy. But they have repeatedly contradicted themselves, and have also said that it's their decision to impose a pay freeze. We know the Post Office has turned over huge profits in these past few years - management can afford to provide our members with a reasonable pay increase if they wanted."

Workers at the Post Office are waging significant action as a key economic sector in communications and operating in the distribution chain for commodities. They have traditionally acted in the forefront of the workers' movement. The strike raises further the independent positions and interests of workers who desire control over their conditions and livelihoods, which are key matters affecting their lives, and which are essentially tied to the direction of the economy and decision-making. It comes at a time when greater challenges are being made by the working class, such as the rail workers, who are stepping into the breech to place the full weight of their organisation behind their demands for their rights and the rights of all.


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