Postal Strikes Continue: workers ‘in for the long haul’
Updated: Mar 13
Why workers are striking, what they hope to get, and what the atmosphere is like at the picket line
By Gemma McLeod
courtesy of Gemma McLeod
On Friday the 30th of September, Royal Mail postal workers were once again on strike throughout the country. I arrived at the picket line at 8am, 4 hours after the first group of workers had arrived. The weather was a particularly bad Scottish autumn day, but the mood was hopeful.
The postal workers at the depot at Wellington Circle in Aberdeen’s Altens neighbourhood told me that around 95% of their colleagues were supporting the strike and not working. Of course, as the morning went on, some postal workers decided to come into work, citing financial worries as the reason that they could not stop working.
Notably, managers were missing from the picket line. The managers, who initially voted to join the strike, reversed this decision at the last minute and have been receiving additional pay for additional duties. The postal workers I spoke to believe this has made a massive difference, as they think a deal would have been reached much more quickly had managers supported the strike.
When I queried why the workers felt that the strikes were important, they said that while wages were a factor, the terms and conditions of their contracts were just as, if not more, important. They told me how unhappy they were with the decision that they would all have to work on Sunday in the near future, but mostly because they hadn’t been involved in the discussion of how that might look. While they were not surprised by the fact that Royal Mail would be adding Sunday deliveries to the rota, as other companies have been doing that for some time now, they were disappointed in the lack of collaboration with workers on the practicalities of that decision.
For example, strikers told me that some people with children may be happy to work on Sunday so that they could save on a day of childcare costs, and if this had been discussed they could have come to a solution. Another issue important to the strikers was changing the hours of the night shift, so that people would have to change their whole schedule and lose out on money. The unique timing of work as a postal worker is one of the draws into the job so changing the hours in such a dramatic fashion is worrying for many workers.
Despite the seeming lack of progress with making a deal, workers told me that they are in for the long haul and that there are 19 further strike dates already planned. They believe that the chaos that this will cause in terms of the Christmas period will help to encourage a deal to be made so that Royal Mail does not miss out on the significant money that the holiday period brings.
Despite the seeming lack of progress with making a deal, workers told me that they are in for the long haul and that there are 19 further strike dates already planned.
A decision will have to be made soon to avoid this, as those on strike told me that the majority of Christmas deliveries are now done in November. Finally, strikers said that they are doing the right thing because although ‘it’s just ordinary people out here, it’s honest, working-class people.’