A letter to The Commune
A brief report: around one hundred postal workers walked out of the Almeida St (Islington N1) delivery office on Wednesday 8th June. The walkout was sparked by the suspension of a postal worker on a trumped-up charge. The background context was an increasing pressure on all workers over ‘absorption’: that is, taking on extra work over and above each worker’s own round, often to cover absences or staff shortages.
The worker in question was well known in the office to be of good character, and scrupulous in following procedures. Absorption often leads to work going over proper hours, and the main means management have to enforce this is bullying and disciplinary action.
Workers held a canteen meeting, and then walked out for three hours, waiting at the gates until CWU negotiators reported that management had climbed down. Workers seemed confident that management would have to cave, resisting a compromise proposal that the worker would not be suspended, but would have a manager follow them around on their walk.
Workers also held out for a guarantee that there would be no reprisals against individual workers. Perhaps this will give postal workers more confidence that they can resist bullying and threats related to absorption, not only in Islington but around the country. Immediate direct action, based on a mass meeting, meant that management couldn’t get around the action by hiring scab labour, or bringing in managers from elsewhere – a very different dynamic to the 2009 official action.