Posties pledge to save Oxford depot

From the Oxford Mail

Bob Cullen
Bob Cullen

A union leader will today ramp up the battle to stop the closure of the Oxford Mail Centre.

Oxfordshire Communication Workers’ Union representative Bob Cullen was due to visit his bosses at their London headquarters to push the case for making it a key issue in the ongoing national agenda for strike action.

Mr Cullen said plans for a local ballot on industrial action had now been postponed and all efforts were being put into national strike action, due to start again next month. As reported in the Oxford Mail, 430 jobs at the Garsington Road depot could go if management push through plans to transfer the sorting of Oxfordshire’s mail to Swindon.

Workers said the plans would lead to a “second class” delivery service, with mail not arriving at homes until after 2pm.

However, managers said the shake-up would make the county’s postal service more efficient and reliable.

Last night, Mr Cullen said: “The decision to close the Oxford Mail Centre is political, not economic.

“It was a message to the union nationally saying they were up for war.

“I’m going to London to meet deputy general secretary Dave Ward and I’m going to put it on the national agenda.

“I’ve every confidence the Oxford Mail Centre will stay open.”

The local ballot for strike action is due to open today following the sacking of workers Steven Gill and John Doran for alleged gross misconduct.

Mr Cullen said he was convinced their cases would be won at an appeal – and the priority was now to save the sorting depot.

Royal Mail spokesman Mike Dalton said: “We’re pleased the local ballot has been withdrawn and the threat of further strike action has been lifted for our customers.”

Two 48-hour national strikes will go ahead on October 5 and October 8.

Union leaders estimated it would take weeks to clear the backlog, but with a programme of strike action already announced the service looks likely to remain chaotic.

The dispute focuses on pay, conditions and pensions, with fears that thousands of job losses could result from Royal Mail plans to modernise and streamline the service.

Royal Mail has announced plans to close the Oxford base along with Reading, and combine both in a new £20m operation at Swindon. The Gloucester office was originally allocated for closure, but that will now remain open.

Opposing the scheme, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith has written to Secretary of State John Hutton as well as Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier.

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