Postal workers strike ballot

‘The best deal in 10 years?’

‘I urge you to vote, and to vote in favour of the deal and against strike action. Take control, it’s in your hands! Don’t let the activists decide the future for you and your family.’ Allan Leighton, Chairman, Royal Mail.


Nationally, postal workers have voted by 48,038 to 46,391 against strike action over a new pay deal. However in London postal workers have voted overwhelmingly (by 11,417 to 4,316) for regional industrial action in support of increased London weighting. The first strike is due to take place on Wednesday 1 October. Postal worker Luke CurHam reports.

Royal Mail describes the deal as a 14.5% pay rise. It forgets to mention all the strings that are attached. All the deal actually guarantees is a 4.5% rise, a 3% rise from October 2003 and a 1.5% rise from 5 April 2004. The rest is based on whether we meet our local targets. The deal therefore takes power away from the union as pay will be fixed on a local and not a national basis. On London weighting, Royal Mail claims that its offer of an increase of £300 per annum takes postal workers towards the top of the London weighting league. The reality is that Royal Mail has included £721.24 of existing monies (RRIS) for inner London and £848.12 for outer London to make the figures look better. Allan Leighton described it as the best deal in ten years and said that a strike would be ‘commercial suicide’. Royal Mail management claims it cannot afford to give postal workers any more money, and has also insisted that 30,000 jobs must go to pay for the deal, ignoring the big wages and bonuses they themselves receive. For example:

• Allan Leighton’s basic pay is £180,000 per year plus bonuses for working just two days a week. This works out at £2,000 per day.
• Both Elmar Toime and Adam Crozier (assistant chairmen) earn in the region of £500,000 per year, with bonuses on top.
• Adam Crozier recently received a £57,400 bonus for two months’ work. In addition Elmar Toime received a bonus of £40,000 for just one month’s work.
• Royal Mail’s reports and accounts show the total remuneration for directors has increased by more than two and a half times since last year from £873,000 to £2.25 million.

Over the last couple of weeks the union has done well with keeping us informed about the negotiations with Royal Mail through letters. But when I first heard about being balloted for strike action it was through the news on TV and not through our union rep. In fact, I’m sure Allan Leighton would like our union rep as we haven’t had any union meetings or been informed by him what is happening.

Recently, in a local newspaper in Harrow, two postmen said ‘the only certainty at the moment is the uncertainty that we feel’. I’ve also heard postal workers saying they were going to vote ‘no’ due to the fact they feel that the union is not adequately representing their needs and a few are considering leaving the union altogether. At a time like this we need a strong union, which in Harrow we definitely don’t have.

FRFI 175 October / November 2003