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‘If we don’t strike we will lose pay and conditions and it will be a race to the bottom’ – Royal Mail workers in Cwmbran on strike today

group of striking postal workers
James Clarke (3rd left), area rep for the CWU, updates Royal Mail workers in Cwmbran this morning

Royal Mail workers in Cwmbran are on strike today as part an ongoing national dispute over pay and conditions. The group formed a picket outside the former post office in General Rees Square.

James Clarke, branch secretary and the Gwent area rep for the Communication Workers Union visited his members today outside the former post office in the town centre to update them on talks. He told Cwmbran Life: “There is a lot of solidarity. This morning I’ve done Abercarn, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar and I’m going down to Newport.

“It’s a fight on our terms and conditions and also a 2% pay increase is an insult. It wasn’t even negotiated, it was put upon us.

“Bascially they are trying to tear up every agreement we’ve got. For example, in Cwmbran they work one in four Saturdays off which we negotiated and agreed with Royal Mail, and they want it to go back to one in six so it’s a quality of life as well.

group of royal mail workers on strike
Royal Mail workers stood outside the former post office in General Rees Square

“They also want to start later which means the public will get their mail later and that also affects the posties in their home life balance. Some of them are carers, some of them have parents to look, and children to look after.

“What we are saying is we don’t disagree with any modernisation but do it right.” He said there was a “pattern” of pay deals being “imposed” on workers nationally without negotiations like with the RMT and fire brigade.

“With the cost of living crisis going on, that’s not good enough. It’s hard but what we have got is the public on our side because everyone is going through the cost of living crisis.

“My colleagues all worked through Covid and were key workers. In that period Royal Mail made as a business around about £738m and £400m went to shareholders but they haven’t got enough to pay us.

“All we are asking is fairness and also the terms and conditions don’t lose that. We’ve seen what happened with P&O and there was no support there from the government. We don’t want that to happen to us.

“I’ve never been to so many picket lines with so many people out. It’s refreshing to see but all of us are losing a day’s pay today.  But the argument is, can you afford not to strike? Because in the long-term if we don’t we will lose pay and conditions and it will be a race to the bottom.

“We are not afraid of changing but it’s got to be right. And I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, it doesn’t have to be right for us, it has to be right for the business and also the customer.”

Mr Clarke also said he was concerned about stories about Royal Mail’s largest shareholder, a Czech billionaire possibly looking to buy up more shares in the business.

Response from Royal Mail

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Three weeks ago, Royal Mail invited the CWU to enter talks through Acas to find a resolution to our change and pay dispute. We have not reached an agreement with the CWU on this request.

“Royal Mail is losing £1m a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands.

“The CWU leadership’s choice of damaging strike action over resolution is weakening the financial position of the company and threatening the job security of our postmen and women.

“We call on the CWU leaders to cancel their planned strike action and accept our invitation to enter talks through Acas without further delay.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

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‘If we don’t strike we will lose pay and conditions and it will be a race to the bottom’ – Royal Mail workers in Cwmbran on strike today