A 48-hour walkout by Royal Mail workers at the Farnham delivery office on Thursday, November 24, and Friday, November 25, was the latest in a series of strikes that have involved 115,000 postal staff and caused major disruption to deliveries across the UK.
Speaking to the Herald on the picket line on November 25, Royal Mail workers at the Farnham delivery office – who did not want to be named for fear of losing their jobs – said they want a pay rise that matches the soaring cost of living.
One postal worker said of the latest Royal Mail pay offer: “They want to destroy our terms and conditions, and if we were to accept this offer, we would end up with a £50 a week less in real terms. When we live in an area as expensive as this, that just doesn’t work.
“These are hard-working people and it’s shameful that they’re taking money off us.”
They added the Royal Mail wants to make “between 6,000 and 10,000 redundancies, but employs 11,000 agency workers”. “The solution is simple”, they said, “just turn them off”.
Another said the Royal Mail is “not interested in letters any more”, claiming there is a directive by bosses to focus on delivering parcels and tracked items, and to allow letters to “pile up”. As a result, the Farnham postal workers apologised on behalf of their company “to anyone waiting for a letter from the NHS or a loved one”.
One added: “If you were able to come inside the Farnham branch, you would fall over the rounds not being delivered. It’s frightening how much post is mounting up. But it’s not just here, it’s everywhere across the country – and it’s not just because of the strike action.
“We’ve got 15 vacant duties, so that’s 15 rounds every day we don’t have anyone to cover.
“So they say to us leave the letters and just take the parcels out – because that’s where the money is. I don’t know an office in the whole sector that hasn’t got the same problem.”
This allegation, which if true could put the Royal Mail in breach of its legal obligation to deliver all paid-for mail, has been disputed by the Royal Mail.
A spokesman said: “Royal Mail does not operate a policy of prioritising parcels over letters. Every item of mail is important to us. We regularly remind colleagues that the delivery, collection and processing of letters and parcels should be treated with equal importance.”
Another wave of strikes is planned in the run-up to Christmas – on December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24.