Lively picket lines around the country marked the first day of strike action by 115,000 Royal Mail workers this morning. Photos by rs21 members.
Management have imposed a two percent pay rise on staff – a tiny fraction of the current rate of inflation, after no pay raise last year. And with today’s announcement of giant fuel price hikes to come, workers can’t afford to settle for what amounts to a pay cut. No wonder almost 97 percent of staff voted for strike action, and that there were big picket lines this morning.
Of course it’s different for senior management. Royal Mail’s Chief Executive got a pay and perks package of £753,000 last year, including a bonus of £142,000. Back in March, the company announced it had made £758 million in profits, after making £726 million the previous year. The company now claims it can’t afford to give staff a pay rise because it needs to invest in the business – yet it’s paid out over £2 billion to shareholders since privatisation in 2013.
The strike is linked to what’s technically a separate dispute about working conditions. Management want Royal Mail to match services like DPD and Amazon, where staff work until 10pm. Issues over pay at Amazon brought hundreds of staff at several warehouses out on wildcat strikes earlier this month – the firm is notoriously hostile to unions. A case in Hove this January highlighted working conditions at DPD, where drivers are paid £1 for each parcel they deliver, and expected to deliver 180 in an 8-hour shift, or one every 2½ minutes, with drivers warned if they are falling behind with amber and red lights on a dashboard app. Judge David Rennie described the system as ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ and sentenced a driver to jail after a DPD van hit and killed a pedestrian.
Royal Mail chair Keith Williams denies that this means ‘a race to the bottom’, but that’s exactly what this is. In the post and railways – and many other workplaces too – senior management rake in huge salaries while workers’ lives get worse and the Tory government takes no action about the cost of living crisis.
Support the postal dispute and all workers in struggle
Find local picket lines – Strikemap gives you locations for your postcode with directions, plus a link to dispute info, or send a message of support
Visit a CWU picket line next Wednesday and on 8-9 September – read our guide to visiting a picket line
Get involved with the Don’t Pay and Enough is Enough campaigns
Picket line photos
NE Manchester Delivery Office – complete with dog and local MP Graham Stringer
Putney, South London
Leytonstone, with support from Unite and London Renters Union
Ely, East Anglia
Leyton, North East London