Walkouts by postal workers on Monday in Bridgwater in Somerset and Southwark in south London underlined the angry mood among post workers.
Nationally Royal Mail workers delivered yet another overwhelming vote to strike on Tuesday of last week.
But their CWU union leaders decided not to announce dates for action, instead calling for a truce with bosses over coronavirus.
CWU leaders Dave Ward and Terry Pullinger said Royal Mail should become an “additional emergency service” during the outbreak.
This would mean postal workers delivering medical aid, checking on older and vulnerable people, delivering local services and supporting people working from home.
It would also mean helping with food parcel deliveries.
Union officials were still in talks with bosses on Monday of this week. Yet workers had heard nothing of the bosses’ response—including confirmation that they would stop attempts to ram through changes that would slash thousands of jobs.
CWU members were also complaining that managers were asking them to carry on working in unsafe conditions.
This included sorting mail at close quarters with other workers, and not being provided with gloves or hand sanitiser. Others were frustrated that their work had so far carried on as normal, including being made to do door to door deliveries.
One commented, “Unfortunately with Royal Mail it is just business as usual. No sanitiser, no social distancing—it is simply unacceptable.”
Another said, “World crisis and we are getting hammered with junk mail!
“I’ve no problem going the extra mile at this time when you’re delivering vital letters and parcels. But going to doors with just leaflets is ridiculous.”
Bosses finally announced on Monday evening measures to enforce social distancing at work. Workers were yet to to see how these would be put into practice as Socialist Worker went to press.
Becoming an additional emergency service cannot mean business as usual—or a truce with bosses who will want to keep delivering leaflets and bills for the companies that pay for them.
Workers and union members know best what services they should deliver—they must have a say over how this is organised.
The union has to be prepared to refuse to deliver items such as junk mail—and to walk out if conditions are unsafe.