Sorting office staff threaten to go on strike
By The Bristol Post | Wednesday, November 07, 2012, 05:00
POSTAL workers at a Bristol sorting office will vote on strike action next week in a row over staff shortages and workloads.
The Communication Workers Union announced last night that it would be sending ballot papers to 100 Royal Mail workers based at the Mead Street depot in Bedminster from next Tuesday.
The union has warned that any strike would be "likely to hit the delivery of mail in the lead up to Christmas".
Staff based at the Mead Street depot normally deliver mail to the BS4 and BS14 postcode areas, which include Brislington, Knowle, Stockwood and Hengrove.
The union claims that the situation at the sorting office has already descended into chaos, with thousands of letters and items of post left undelivered because staff shortages have left delivery rounds too big to be completed be remaining posties.
Royal Mail has blamed the problem on staff sickness and said that the backlog should be cleared up by today.
The union says it is asking members to vote on strike action "in response to the abrogation of national agreements and procedures by Royal Mail managers".
The ballot will close on November 21, with a result announced soon afterwards.
CWU Bristol branch official David Wilshire said: "These postal workers have shown tremendous restraint in not requesting a ballot previously, but now think that enough is enough and have felt the need to take a stand.
"The union will be meeting with workers at a mass meeting outside the depot next week, in order to discuss what form an acceptable resolution would take. It is then hoped that a meeting with the company will follow."
The CWU claims seven delivery staff jobs have been cut, leaving those who remain with an increasing workload.
The union says election manifestos from Bristol's mayoral candidates were among the items which were left undelivered in the sorting office over the weekend.
Mr Wilshire said: "To blame this fiasco on a minority of workers on sick leave completely misses the point that there are not enough rounds in the depot and postal workers are struggling to complete deliveries that are over-laden with mail."
Royal Mail spokesman Adrian Booth said: "Contingency plans, including assistance from Royal Mail managers over the weekend, enabled the delivery of delayed items of mail to be carried out in the BS4 and BS14 postcode area of Bristol.
"We are confident that all mail will be delivered by close of play today."
Mr Booth said that any customers with queries on deliveries should contact the Royal Mail customer services department on 0845 740740.