By Mark Sandell
Extreme bullying and intimidation have led to postal workers at Oxford's mail centre walking out.
A group of part-time staff has been using threats and intimidation while clocking up massive overtime with the active support of one manager. Senior management did nothing about the situation, despite the union raising it several times in the last six months.
Communication Workers' Union representative Bob Cullen said: "One woman, a single mother, was threatened and when she reported it to her manager, he asked her what she expected as she was a good-looking girl. She has now resigned.
"These people are visiting workers' homes, their children in schools and threatening to beat people up," he added.
After an initial walk-out by 39 workers after a clash with the gang, management punished the strikers but took no action against the bullies. This lead to a walk-out which started on 31 March and is still solid as we go to press.
A local delivery office joined the walk-out on Tuesday 6 April and more look likely to follow their lead.
One picket told me that even some agency drivers had been refusing to cross the picket line. Local unions are rallying to support the postal workers. Members from AMICUS, UNISON, T&GWU, GMB, GPMU, NUT, AUT, PCS, FBU, NUJ and NATFHE joined postal workers, along with their families, in a mass picket to support the postal workers' action.
Oxford TUC released this statement:
"Royal Mail have accepted that there has been a major problem of bullying and intimidation but they are insisting on their right to victimise postal workers who have taken action.
"Without postal workers walking out, the situation would have got worse in the face of management inaction, yet now they want to punish the people who did take action to stop the bullying.
"Oxford and District Trades Council believe that Royal Mail management have ignored postal workers' right to a safe working environment and that their current stance is an attack on the union movement."
Many postal workers would be hard-pressed to explain the difference between "management's right to manage" and bullying. But events here have shown just how bad things can get when management wants to attack the union.