Postal workers in London are starting a strike ballot after bosses rejected union plans to save jobs.
Royal Mail wants to shut the Bow Locks and Nine Elms mail centres and the giant Rathbone Place central London delivery office with the loss of thousands of jobs.
Last week they rejected a proposal by the CWU union that would keep offices open.
The union says it will now ballot for strikes, with voting between Friday 13 May and Monday 23 May and a result shortly after.
“This fight is vital and we’re going all out to win the ballot,” says Merlin Reader, a union rep at Mount Pleasant mail centre. “We’ve got gate meetings at offices across the capital almost every day this week.
“Royal Mail want to punish London for being a ‘militant’ area of the union. If they get away with forcing through job losses here, they’ll move on to others. And, they will start an attack on our national terms and conditions too.
“This is a fight for the future of the union.”
With the privatisation of postal services looming, it is clear that the company is in an aggressive mood.
Reps told Socialist Worker they expect work from union stronghold Bow Locks mail centre to be moved to Mount Pleasant or Gatwick soon.
Provocative management gestures like this have sparked waves of unofficial strikes in the past. There is a real possibility they will again.
It is vital that workers maintain the tradition of refusing to handle “scab mail”.
Royal Mail wants to bloody the CWU before a sell off. The best way to stop them is for the union to bare its teeth and prepare for strikes—official and unofficial.
Around 300 postal workers in Liverpool struck unofficially last weekend after Royal Mail sacked six workers—for following management instructions.
The workers had obeyed an order to increase the speed of a giant sorting machine, contrary to guidelines. As a result a large amount of mail was delayed after being improperly sorted.
Royal Mail’s sacking announcement led to a walkout by workers at Sandhill. Colleagues at Brunswick Dock and West Derby quickly followed them.
CWU union branch secretary Mark Walsh told Socialist Worker that his members were “outraged” at the way their colleagues have been treated.
Strikers returned to work on Monday afternoon after bosses agreed to demands for an independent panel to investigate the sackings.