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From: The Socialist issue 1105, 14 October 2020: Locked down, hard up, fight back!

Search site for keywords: Royal Mail - Workers - Profit - Postal workers - Covid - CWU - Health and safety

Stop Royal Mail's profit-driven plans to force postal workers to share vans

Postal worker, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

Postal worker, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Royal Mail worker

As we are entering a second wave of Covid-19, senior Royal Mail managers have taken a reckless decision to reintroduce shared vans, on a so-called voluntary basis. But the Royal Mail view of voluntary would not be our view of it.

There are reports from around the country of managers pressuring members to share vans, and this at a time when there's been a huge increase in Covid cases within units. One member has tragically lost his life from a cardiac arrest linked to Covid. Mac, who worked at the Nottingham mail centre, leaves a wife and four children.

Gary Clark, CWU branch secretary, says:

"Around 18 postal workers have died from Covid in total. Luckily, I have had none in my own branch but I am seeing a large increase in confirmed Covid cases, including Bathgate which has ten, and another 15 are self-isolating. That's over 25% of that office who either have it or are self-isolating.

"This is a completely reckless act by management, which we believe is due to them cost-cutting to make profits, and preparing for the increase in post as we head towards Christmas.

"Royal Mail should hire a large fleet of vans, but instead it has put our members' health and safety at risk, and their families and other workers too.

"We have launched a campaign around this, encouraging our members to refuse to share vans and follow our guidance around health and safety. If a unit is unsafe they should seek support from the CWU. "

This has been happening at a time when we are in national negotiations with Royal Mail around a number of outstanding issues linked to the strike ballot we had, and this action will clearly have an impact on these talks.

We must clearly put our members' safety before Royal Mail's chase for profit and, if required, ballot for industrial action.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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