By Mike Pentelow
Workers have voted to strike against the closure of the Royal Mail delivery and distribution office in Rathbone Place, which they fear would worsen local deliveries and hit jobs.
The Royal Mail has announced it intends to sell the office for millions of pounds and transfer the work to Mount Pleasant, about one and a half miles away.
Picking up post from that far away will inevitably delay postal deliveries to Fitzrovia. And if people are not in to collect deliveries they will have to go further in order to pick them up if the Rathbone Place centre is shut down.
It is one of three mail centres threatened with closure, the other two being in East London, and at Nine Elms in Vauxhall. About 3,500 workers are involved, including 600 at Rathbone Place. They fear compulsory redundancies and have voted by 79 per cent in a ballot to resist the closures. And there was an overwhelming vote at the union’s national conference last month against taking any work transferred from closed offices.
“We are worried about compulsory redundancies and have tried to negotiate with management over this and have got the support of independent consultants,” said Andy Hyatt, the West Central Distribution representative of the Communication Workers’ Union. “But negotiations have broken down.” He believes 600 jobs could go between the three offices. When they asked management for assurance that this was not the case they were refused.
“The new regime seems intent on stripping assets to make a profit. But these are assets needed for an efficient business, and will amount to a short term profit at the expense of the long term interests of the service,” he added.
“There is talk about compulsory transfers to other offices within a 15 mile radius, but when people have asked for jobs nearer their home they have been told there are no jobs there.”