24th February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Posties set to strike again on Saturday after hopes of deal evaporate

Postal workers in Lerwick are expected to go on strike again on Saturday after talks aimed at averting more industrial action failed.

Last week 19 postmen and women took to the picket lines outside the main post office in Commercial Street as part of the national dispute.

CWU’s Aberdeen branch secretary, George Ross, said it was still unclear how many union members in Shetland would be walking out again tomorrow, but warned the union had enjoyed support from its members in the isles.

He said he intended to visit Shetland on Saturday to stand alongside picketers in Lerwick.

“Delivery staff will be out on strike on Saturday,” he said. “It’s too early to say how many will be on strike. I’m going to phone Derek [Hannah, Lerwick’s union repre­sentative] to gauge the feeling of local members in Shetland.”

The latest phase of strikes, which began yesterday, come after negotiations broke down between Royal Mail management and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on Wednesday.

Royal Mail’s head of external relations in Scotland, Julie Morrison, said many postal workers covering rural areas would continue to work through the strike, although Mr Ross said many of those felt they had a duty of care to continue working.

“Because they know people in the small islands they feel it is a service they have to provide, because friends and neighbours need things like prescriptions and other items,” he said.

Posties striking in Shetland will be among the 77,000 delivery and collection staff expected to walk out tomorrow, in the last of three consecutive days of action.

The action started yesterday when 43,700 staff from across the UK walked out in mail centres and delivery units. Drivers and garage staff were among those picketing.

Today 400 staff from coding centres are expected to strike, although none of those workers are based in Scotland.

It is tomorrow’s action by delivery workers that is likely to have the biggest impact on the service in Shetland.

Negotiations at the TUC headquarters came to a deadlock as union officials tabled a proposal at 10am on Wednesday, which Royal Mail described as “a whole new series of demands”.

Royal Mail said the union’s decision to walk away came as talks were making significant progress.

It said the union was playing havoc with customer confidence, and urged CWU to come back to the negotiating table.

However CWU’s deputy secretary, Dave Ward, said a proposal had been put on the table by union chiefs, which would allow further talks through ACAS “with the intention of concluding a full and final agreement”.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said he was disappointed to see the strike go ahead.

“I’m sure I was not the only one to feel annoyed and frustrated on hearing Royal Mail management and unions talking about useful and productive talks at the beginning of this week, when they had allowed a strike to take place last week,” he said.

“That confirmed my view that both sides are more interested in the PR war than actually getting to a meaningful resolution to the dispute, which would stop disruption to mail deliveries and allow the future of the daily deliveries to be secured.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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