A strike of Britain's 230,000 postal workers threatens to close down all the country's mail services and server its telephone links with the outside world.
A strike of Britain's 230,000 postal workers threatens to close down all the country's mail services and server its telephone links with the outside world. The postal workers are due to stop work at midnight on Tuesday/Wednesday.
The Union of Post Office Workers announced on Friday that it would call its first-ever national strike unless it received a pay offer "worth looking at" in the meantime. The union is seeking an average three pounds sterling (7 dollars) a week for its members, compared with a management offer of about half. The basic rate for postmen is 18 pounds (43 dollars) and for telephone operators 17 pounds (41 dollars) a week.
The union demand is equivalent to a 16 per cent rise, and the Post Office management, stiffened by Government encouragement to avoid "inflationary" increases, has refused to go beyond eight per cent.
The effect of the strike if it takes place, will be felt immediately in the postal services, as union members stop sorting and delivery of the 35 million letters and half a million parcels they handle every day. The Post Office has already stopped accepting any parcels, and parcel sorting bays are empty.
On the telephone service the effect will be more gradual, as a large part of it is automatic. Manual switchboards are due to close at once, cutting off most contact with the outside world, but automatic dialled calls will be still be possible within the country, to many parts of Europe and to New York. But as equipment breaks down it will not be replaced, so a gradual paralysis of telephone services is possible.
Telegram and telex services will be similarly affected. Telephone operators will work without pay to accept emergency fire, police and ambulance calls, and unpaid counter clerks will work a few hours each week to pay old-age pensions and other welfare benefits normally paid out at post offices.
Details of the strike were given today (Sunday) by Union General Secretary Mr. Tom Jackson: