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POSTAL workers today proposed to keep serving as a “fourth emergency service” through the coronavirus pandemic, despite voting overwhelmingly for strike action once again.
The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) followed the 94.5 per cent ballot victory, on a turnout of 63.4 per cent, with an offer to rally more than 100,000 postal workers to carry out essential deliveries during the crisis.
The vote is a slap in the face for privateers Royal Mail, which managed to have a 97 per cent vote for strike action in November overruled in court on a series of technicalities.
The CWU said that the vote represents “a huge mandate” to combat Royal Mail’s attacks on jobs and services and its undermining of the prized national service’s reputation.
But the union said that since voting began two weeks ago, the coronavirus was “changing the language of priorities for our members and the country.”
A union statement said today: “In recognition of the fact that Royal Mail Group is the only service that connects every address in this country via its universal service — something our dispute is seeking to protect — we have made a proposal to the company based on putting the interests of the nation first.
“We want the public we serve, the government and shareholders to know that we want to set aside our differences with Royal Mail and, subject to prioritising the health and safety of our members, we want postal workers to become an additional emergency service in the UK.
“We believe this could really help the country in these unprecedented times.”
It continues: “Postal workers are embedded in every community in the UK. They are trusted figures. They are part of the social fabric of society.
“It’s time to utilise the companies’ unrivalled infrastructure and daily reach across every city, town, village and rural community, remembering that for a lot of people the only person they will see every day will be their local postal worker.
“With this in mind we have called for Royal Mail Group to step back from their attacks in the workplace, imposing unagreed changes and destroying the very morale and vocational sense of purpose the nation now needs, and work with the union to enact our proposal.”
The union said that postal workers would “become an additional emergency service” during the pandemic.
Its statement said: “Postal workers can play a crucial role in keeping everyone in this country connected and informed, delivering medical aid, checking on the elderly and vulnerable, delivering local mail to local services and supporting people working from home.”
The union said that postal workers could assist with foodbank collections and deliver food parcels to people in need.
It said: “In any national emergency in our history and in our day-to-day existence, the universal postal service has played a vital role.
“These unprecedented events remind us all that postal workers always come through and will stand ready to serve the nation again, but Royal Mail Group must play their part by agreeing our proposal and ensuring the very best standards of safety and support to its employees.”
The union has sent its proposal to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and plans to meet with management tomorrow.
Postal workers have been under attack by bosses since the Tory privatisation of Royal Mail in 2013, having operated for almost 500 years as a public-owned service.
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