DISGRUNTLED Royal Mail workers in Hastings and the surrounding area are planning a ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ style strike against controversial plans to privatise the service.
The Government announced earlier this week that it intend to open the Royal Mail up for private investment in a move which has been heavily criticised by both political opponents and union members.
A series of strikes are now likely as unhappy workers vote on whether or not to back industrial action in the local area. The poll will be about the conditions of a pay deal but the reality is that members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will use the vote as an opportunity to put off potential investors and force the Government into back-tracking on its unpopular plans.
Derek Hansford, who represents the CWU’s Southdowns Weald & Rother Branch, said he believed strike action was ‘almost inevitable’.
His local union branch, which covers the area including Hastings, Bexhill, Rother and Wealden, boasts more than 3,500 members and Mr Hansford believes the overwhelming majority will vote in favour of a walkout, likely to take place over three days on October 20. By staggering the striking departments, Mr Hansford says the union can maximise the impact while limiting each member to missing just a single day.
“We will not take this decision lightly,” he reassured locals, “This really is Custer’s Last Stand for Royal Mail. Any private company taking over will look to change areas which are not making a profit.” He added the mooted change could result in collection centres in the more cut off communities for people to go to and pick up their mail.
“We don’t like to strike but if this goes ahead it will be the death knell of the Royal Mail. We are taking this approach for our communities.”
He encouraged locals to ‘bombard’ their MPs with letters voicing their opposition to the plans and sign petitions.
Local Labour candidate Sarah Owen has already collected hundreds of names on her online petition (sign at www.sarahowen.org.uk/royalmailpetition/).