POSTAL WORKERS in Plymouth have walked out without a ballot after bosses brought in underpaid agency staff.
The frustration felt by Royal Mail employees reached boiling point this week after the management of the privatised postal service rode roughshod over national agreements on staffing.
Some of the workers are limited to doing just 22 hours a week, yet agency staff on lower wages have been drafted in to make up shortfalls, according to the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
Around 200 postal staff walked out on Monday after turning up and finding the new staff had been brought in. They remained on strike yesterday.
Local CWU representative Ali Sinclair said: “Royal Mail has got no respect for its staff — it is as simple as that.
“We have people with young families trying to get on the property ladder and they can’t do it on 22-hour-a-week contracts.
“We have no animosity towards the agency staff — it is not their fault they are getting paid less.
“Our animosity is with Royal Mail and the approach they have towards their own staff. With 200 people on strike, that would suggest something is wrong.”
The union’s Plymouth and East Cornwall branch secretary Ralph Ferrett added: “Agency staff have been brought in and that had not been agreed under the normal national agreement.
“There has been a long-standing situation over the level of resources. Members feel that the number of full and part-time staff is insufficient and that they need an increase in the amount of hours to do the work.
“We are hopeful a settlement will be promoted quickly and will be talking to Royal Mail so a satisfactory resolution can be reached.”
A management spokesman said: “Royal Mail is fully committed to the process of trying to resolve concerns of postal workers based in Plymouth by following the national jointly agreed framework with the CWU.”
The striking workers have defied anti-union laws by walking out without a postal ballot being held first and failing to give bosses a week’s notice of the strike action.
Royal Mail was privatised by the Con-Dem government in 2013 after being run as a publicly owned service for nearly 500 years.