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Postal workers in north and north-east warn they are prepared to impact Christmas deliveries in dispute

Postal workers have taken to the streets of Dingwall to campaign for more pay as the dispute rages on.
Postal workers have taken to the streets of Dingwall to campaign for more pay as the dispute rages on.

Postal workers are prepared to hamper deliveries for Black Friday and Christmas if a new pay deal cannot be agreed.

Royal Mail workers across Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands returned to the picket line this morning for another day of industrial action.

Discussions over pay remain at a crossroads as negotiations of a new pay deal broke down.

Postal workers say the 2% pay rise, previously offered by Royal Mail fails to meet their needs in the current climate, leaving them feeling neglected and undervalued.

This week, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced further industrial action will go ahead, with workers set to take a stand on October 12, 20 and 25, followed by a further day of action on November 28.

The walk-out will spark chaos during some of the business’s busiest occasions, including Black Friday and the run-up to the festive season.

Royal Mail has stressed it will not deliver letters during the strikes while it prioritises special deliveries and Covid test kits.

It has encouraged people to post items before the affected dates to ensure delivery.

‘It is necessary’

Postal workers gathered outside the Royal Mail delivery office in Dingwall today as the campaign for more pay rages on.

Mike Cumming from Dingwall was among those taking a stand. He has been a postal worker for 22 years servicing areas including Dingwall, Orkney and Inverness.

He said impacting Christmas deliveries will be a “necessary” sacrifice in an attempt to agree on a pay increase.

He said: “Businesses change but it should not be to the detriment of the workers.

Royal Mail workers on strike in Aberdeen. Photo: Chris Cromar/DC Thomson

“What we are looking for is a pay increase without all these terms and conditions that are being forced upon us. None of us can afford to lose pay but ultimately, we are having to do it to improve the whole thing for the workers.”

The strikes have also been prompted by proposed changes to their terms and conditions, including changes to sick pay and overtime and a reduction in retirement payments.

‘Royal Mail need to do better’

John Fraser, Dingwall’s CWU representative, says they feel they have been forced to take a stand, even if that means dropping money no one can afford to lose.

Mr Fraser, who has been working for the Royal Mail for more than 20 years, said: “The whole thing is a concern for everybody because obviously there is the cost-of-living crisis.

“We are looking at the long term really. I have been here for 21 years and we see this job as our livelihood. It is a job that you do enjoy.

“None of us want to do this but we’ve been forced into it.”

The group is calling for talks to recommence in the hope of finding a resolution in a time of crisis.

Mr Fraser from Invergordon says the firm needs to improve their 2% pay offer.

He added: “Previous talks have broken down and the Royal Mail are refusing to engage in meaningful talks. Basically, what needs to happen is to get back in the room and work out a resolution.

“We would be looking for something that keeps up with the cost-of-living crisis.”

Workers fear losing £95 every week

About 15 members of the CWU are holding a picket outside of Royal Mail’s Altens delivery office, while about 20 are at another in the Mastrick area of Aberdeen.

One of the strikers attending the Altens strike was Alan Duncan, an operational grade at the south Aberdeen depot, who runs CSS machines and sorts mailing packets.

He is worried that the changes will adversely affect him and his colleagues, including losing his TPM allowance for running the machines as well as a nightshift allowance, saying:

“So if everything goes the way they do, I’ll be £90 to £95 pounds down a week for doing the same job. With the annualised hours, they’re trying to make you work less in the summer and more in the winter, that takes away a lot of people’s overtime at Christmas.”

Alan Duncan. Image: Chris Cromar / DC Thomson

Having spent  35 years at the Royal Mail, Mr Duncan said it is “slowly declining”, adding: “It’s all about shareholders, it’s saving money so shareholders can get more money, they’re not really thinking about the public.”

At the strike, only two full-time and two part-time postmen went in to do their shift this morning between both the night shift and early ship.

CWU area distribution representative, Greg Collin, praised the support from workers and the public, saying: “We’ve had great support from the public, there’s been a few cars passed that are tooting.”

Greg Collin. Image: Chris Cromar / DC Thomson

He also said that one postman, who has been doing the same delivery route for the past 15 years, received a delivery of rolls and coffee from one of the residents that he delivered to.

Unite representative for the Altens delivery office, Jim Craig, said he is worried that a proposed early morning shift change from 5am to 8pm will force people out of work, saying:

Causing upheaval

“Younger people have maybe got childcare issues in the afternoon. They’ve come into this business thinking that they will work five until one and are told that they’ll now work from eight until maybe five, so we’ll have childcare issues.”

He also said that there are concerns over the nightshift allowance and no public transport to take the workers to the site due to later through the night starts.

Jim Craig. Image: Chris Cromar / DC Thomson

Mr Craig said the changes are getting forced through without any agreement from the CWU, which is causing “all sorts of upheaval”.

However, he said that the trade union has always got on “pretty good” with management, citing that the last time they took industrial action was back in 2009 and denies that they are against change, adding:

“I fully understand that the business is changing, we’ve never been opposed to change.

“We’ve had so many changes over the last four or five years and we’ve always got on with them and enhanced them. We haven’t been pleased with a lot of the changes, but we’ve got on with it, but this is just too far.”