Plymouth's Luke Pollard defends no-show
Striking postal workers have urged Plymouth MP Luke Pollard to show more support for union members taking part in walkouts ahead of Christmas.
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) organised 10 days of strikes with 115,000 members across the country staging walkouts in a row with Royal Mail over pay, working conditions and job security.
But in an open letter to the Labour MP for Sutton Devonport, CWU Plymouth and East Cornwall branch secretary, Ralph Ferrett, said workers wanted to see more support from their local MP.
“I appreciate that you have explained to me and my colleague Tony Bouch in our meeting earlier this year that Keir Starmer has expressly forbidden front bench MPs from attending picket lines,” said Ferrett. “This is in our opinion a shameful and unacceptable position for the Labour Party to have and one which the CWU local and national profoundly disagrees with.”
“Postal workers make up several hundred of your constituents across the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency. We’re a group of workers under unprecedented attacks from a shady venture capitalist billionaire, trying to destroy good jobs in favour of a race to the bottom.”
Mr Ferrett explained how Royal Mail had said it would deduct pay for staff who go sick while strikes are ongoing. He suggested this was leading to “multiple members suffering from serious ill health being left on no pay.”
He added: “You’d be a welcome guest on any of our picket lines this week. Perhaps you can visit like your front bench colleagues, Lisa Nandy and Tan Dhesi did.
“You have always been a friend to our union and our branch in the past and I hope for this friendship to continue and blossom in the future.”
Mr Ferrett suggested, if Mr Pollard could not not stand on a picket line, that he posted support on social media, a video message or offered support for other campaigns. He also urged Mr Pollard to publicly criticise what he called “Royal Mail’s deliberate running down of the service.”
Responding to the letter, Luke Pollard said: “No one wants to go on strike. The best way to resolve the strike action is for Royal Mail to sit down with the trade union.
“I have met with CWU reps in person recently and share their concerns about the proposals from Royal Mail.
“As a shadow minister I am unable to attend picket lines and am focussing on replacing the broken government in power today with a Labour government who will back workers, repeal anti-union legislation and properly help people through the cost of living crisis.”
Strike action this week was scheduled for December 14 and December 15. Further action is planned for December 23 and Christmas Eve.
Royal Mail made a pay offer of up to nine percent which was rejected by workers. The company has argued it needs to restructure as it is losing £1 million a day and claims it may need to cut up to 10,000 jobs by August 2023.