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London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 10:32

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/0 ... d-m14.html
By our reporter
14 March 2020
Postal workers in several depots across south west London and other parts of the capital have mounted a de facto wildcat strike/work to rule over concerns regarding coronavirus safety. They did so in the face of the refusal of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to mount any protest against Royal Mail management.

Workers have accused Royal Mail management of inaction over concerns that they are being exposed unnecessarily to the virus. As one worker told the WSWS, it seems to be the policy of Royal Mail to “keep quiet and hope it goes away.”

Managers are telling staff that they will not even be issued with hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes. Other managers have been trying to order sanitizers from Amazon to no avail.

Postal workers are asking why if a member of staff phones in sick with suspected but not clinically verified coronavirus, aren’t the rest of the office being informed of the suspected case. Symptomatic staff are being told to stay at home and to self-isolate without being tested.

Postal workers are demanding action from Royal Mail to protect not only their work colleagues but family members as well. However, all Royal Mail is interested in is keeping costs down. Management has said they will only clean an office if there has been a clinically verified case of coronavirus.

Like all public services, postal workers come into daily contact with the members of the public. Handheld computers that the public sign to receive their mail are a possible source of spreading the virus both ways. Customer services points where people collect their mail are another source of potential contamination. One South West office has closed its customer service counter until further notice. Another office has suspended deliveries and collection of mail from post offices and pillar boxes.

The primary concern for postal workers across the country is the wall of secrecy from Royal Mail. Although there has been one confirmed case of a postman catching the virus in Greater Manchester, Royal Mail have so far refused to say if he went out on delivery and whom he met. All that is known is that the man returned to work after having travelled to Italy and worked for a day before self-isolating himself having developed flu-like symptoms.

The Manchester Evening News reported that the worker, “is understood to be based at the South West Delivery Office in Old Trafford.” It was only after he tested positive for coronavirus that Royal Mail carried out a deep clean of the office. It is unclear if some or all his work colleagues have been or will be forced to self-isolate. Royal Mail would only say that the man was recovering at home “under clinical advice.”

Postal workers around the world are faced with the same hazards and deliberate inaction by their employers and governments. An employee with the US Postal Service has tested positive for coronavirus in Seattle, Washington. The infection came in the same state that saw the first US death from the virus.

The same issue confronts workers employed in other public service industries. Railworkers have told the WSWS that conductors on their franchises are refusing to pass through the train to collect ticket revenues due to the absence of protection. Drivers secured an agreement for extra time to sterilise controls after a change of shift.

Yesterday, Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that a London Underground train driver on the Jubilee Line tested positive for coronavirus. The driver, based at the North Greenwich depot, had recently returned from a holiday in Vietnam. The areas where the driver worked are being cleaned, including the depot and the trains. The Jubilee Line, between Stratford in east London and Stanmore in suburban north-west, is the third busiest tube line. Labour Party London Mayor Sadiq Khan has insisted that the network will continue to run as normal.

The Royal Mail walkouts in south London come after the CWU identified over 30 local disputes at depots and sorting offices nationwide. These attest to a growing level of militancy by workers in the face of a continual management offensive against their terms, conditions and jobs.

Next Tuesday, the CWU will announce the result of a nationwide industrial action ballot of 110,000 workers, which is set to record a large majority in favour of strikes.

This follows the annulling of the previous ballot by postal workers by the High Court on November 13. In October, CWU members voted by a 97 percent majority on a 76 percent turnout to strike. Refusing to defy the judgment, the CWU appealed it to the High Court with predictable results. Still refusing to call any strike to defy this attack on the democratic rights of its members, the CWU eventually concluded that to save face, and to maintain control of the workforce, meant calling another national strike ballot.

Yesterday, the Aslef train drivers’ union announced that nearly 2,500 London Underground (LU) drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over pay. A further 10,000-plus LU workers, including drivers and signallers, are being balloted by the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) in the same dispute. Any action by both sets of workers would completely shut down the London Underground network.

The walkouts by postal workers in Britain come after earlier developments in France. Around 70 percent of bus drivers in the Paris region working for Transdev and Keolis struck last week over the lack of proper action over the spread of coronavirus. There was a strike by workers in the RATP Paris public transport network at the Gare de Lyon. Action over coronavirus has also been taken by some teachers as well as a two-day work stoppage at the Louvre museum.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 19:08

merson01 wrote:Postal workers are asking why if a member of staff phones in sick with suspected but not clinically verified coronavirus, aren’t the rest of the office being informed of the suspected case.


That's a straight lift from a question I posted on here a few days ago.

One question is if a member of staff phones in with suspected but not clinically verified Coronavirus will the rest of the office be informed...


Cheeky f***ers.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 19:10

sorry should have put it in quotes it was put together in a bit of a hurry

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 19:23

Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,
Last edited by TrueBlueTerrier on 15 Mar 2020, 07:44, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed expletive

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 19:29

What would you have had them done catch the virus and die and then pass it on to their loved ones, while Royal Mail carries on as if nothing has happened? It is called the independent action of the working class. Workers in Italy have not waited to protect themselves by going on strike we should do the same.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 19:40

no i would have done the sensible thing and popped to the shop for some hand wipes, or failing that a bottle of water and soap to carry with me, its not rocket science..

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 21:05

I'll give you another question we can't get an official answer to.

Will we get paid if we have to self isolate because a family member is ill?
If you're not technically sick yourself are you entitled to sick pay?

Families could go from two wages to one on SSP and the other having to take unpaid leave overnight.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 22:47

2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,

I know the union have been asking us not to respond to management provocation with wildcat strikes but how will Royal Mail use this against us?

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

14 Mar 2020, 23:43

2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted.


Imagine some people putting their own health and that of their families before thinking how that might affect our strike. The audacity of them...…
Last edited by TrueBlueTerrier on 15 Mar 2020, 07:44, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed expletive

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 07:40

2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,


Sorry but your own post proves the falsity of your position. A wildcat strike is an unofficial, unrecognised strike that does not have Union backing. As long as the Union do not officially condone the action it can in no way affect the outcome of the ballot.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 08:30

TrueBlueTerrier wrote:
2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,


Sorry but your own post proves the falsity of your position. A wildcat strike is an unofficial, unrecognised strike that does not have Union backing. As long as the Union do not officially condone the action it can in no way affect the outcome of the ballot.


Then why have the union been begging us not to take wildcat action over the executive action?

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 08:47

2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,


You’re obviously a legal expert specialising in employment law so can you please inform us all how the wildcat strikes due to something totally different from what we were balloted on could possibly get the ballot overturned? Which law are you relying on?

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 09:13

geordieboy123 wrote:
2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,


You’re obviously a legal expert specialising in employment law so can you please inform us all how the wildcat strikes due to something totally different from what we were balloted on could possibly get the ballot overturned? Which law are you relying on?


It was a genuine question. RM dont need an excuse at the moment as we all know to link two completely separate issues together so they can go to court.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 09:28

2yearpostie wrote:
TrueBlueTerrier wrote:
2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,


Sorry but your own post proves the falsity of your position. A wildcat strike is an unofficial, unrecognised strike that does not have Union backing. As long as the Union do not officially condone the action it can in no way affect the outcome of the ballot.


Then why have the union been begging us not to take wildcat action over the executive action?


Because if they did not disown or try to stop WILDCAT action it could then cause the ballot to be overturned, or the Unions finances to be sequestered.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 10:06

2yearpostie wrote:
geordieboy123 wrote:
2yearpostie wrote:Well done London, by having wildcat strikes youve just got the ballot overturned again before its even been counted,


You’re obviously a legal expert specialising in employment law so can you please inform us all how the wildcat strikes due to something totally different from what we were balloted on could possibly get the ballot overturned? Which law are you relying on?


It was a genuine question. RM dont need an excuse at the moment as we all know to link two completely separate issues together so they can go to court.


If you're going to ask a question it's better to phrase it as a question preferably with a question mark at the end.

If your question is does unofficial industrial action invalidate an official industrial action ballot the answer is no as long as the union does not officially endorse the unofficial industrial action and actively engages in the process to end the unofficial industrial action either by negotiation or a rule 13 ballot.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 10:20

RM are supplying gloves and there are alcohol based handing cleaning liquid and wipes available although I think they have run out of wipes at the moment.
RM issued new guidelines on Saturday 14th March regarding standing two metres away from customers, placing parcels by doorsteps before knocking then waiting for 'recipients' to accept the parcels. 'CV19' to be written on the PDA rather than allowing 'recipients' physical contact with Posties or the PDA. Of course it's up to posties if they follow these guidelines or not.
I haven't seen any posties in our DO using the gloves though and there was much laughter yesterday when one of us out a face mask on.
It's hard to say when it is all going to get really bad but I expect it will happen all of a sudden like yesterday when ten more people died in a day in the UK. Except the figures will be much higher.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 11:01

Celgar wrote:I haven't seen any posties in our DO using the gloves

Probably because if you use the blue gloves supplied by RM, the PDAs don't work as they don't detect any screen presses

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 12:23

SpacePhoenix wrote:
Celgar wrote:I haven't seen any posties in our DO using the gloves

Probably because if you use the blue gloves supplied by RM, the PDAs don't work as they don't detect any screen presses



You can use the pens on the PDA.. assuming they haven't fallen off

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 18:07

Do people not understand wots its going to b like in two weeks.Union will try to go on strike but will not back us up about helping out now.Ive always been union (30yrs) but in my view there a joke.f**k me we shoukd all try and stick togherther.

London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns

15 Mar 2020, 19:06

NorthernPostman wrote:
SpacePhoenix wrote:
Celgar wrote:I haven't seen any posties in our DO using the gloves

Probably because if you use the blue gloves supplied by RM, the PDAs don't work as they don't detect any screen presses



You can use the pens on the PDA.. assuming they haven't fallen off

You can use a key on them they are capacitive touchscreen as such ie they work on the principle of draining energy hence rubber gloves cloth gloves will not work. And do they come with pens really the PDA's are s**t build quality.

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