Isle of Man postal workers vote to strike over pay freeze

Postal workers in the Isle of Man have voted to strike, with an overwhelming 84% in favour in their first-ever secret ballot over pay. The Communication Workers Union, which represents more than 250 postal workers on the island, said its members were protesting a pay freeze imposed despite a 5% increase in profits for the state-owned Isle of Man Post Office.

The Isle of Man Post Office said today it was “disappointed” with the results of the ballot.

Alan Crowe, chairman of the Isle of Man Post Office, said: “We are saddened that a majority have voted in favour of strike action. We appreciate and understand a pay freeze is difficult for all of our staff to accept. However we urge everyone regardless of the way they have voted not to strike.”

The CWU said there was still time for management to return to the negotiating table and avoid any strike action.

CWU assistant secretary Terry Pullinger said the 85.5% turnout in the ballot, and subsequent voting, had been a “compelling” result demonstrating the “genuine grievance” of staff.

He said: “The strong result clearly demonstrates the depth of feeling of postal workers. They are a loyal and dedicated workforce that have returned outstanding quality of service and increased profits year on year and they believe, as does their union, that they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.

“Equally, they have earned the right to have their case heard openly and impartially. It is the CWU’s genuine hope that this ballot result brings about a fair deal without the need of recourse to industrial action,” Pullinger added.

“Restraint”

The Isle of Man Post Office said its hands were tied on the 2010 pay agreement because the current pay freeze was in place across the entire public sector.

The postal operator said it was still open to further talks with the union, insisting that it was offering a pay deal that compared favourably with other organizations in the public and private sectors.

Crowe said: “Employees throughout the Island’s economy are having to exercise restraint in the current unprecedented financial circumstances, and Isle of Man Post Office is no exception to this.”

CWU members account for just over half of the Isle of Man Post Office workforce, and Crowe insisted “robust contingency measures” were in place to ensure minimal disruption in the event of a strike.

Even so, he warned against work stoppages in an organisation that works as part of a customer service industry.

He said: “Strike action would be reckless and its only outcome would be damage to the business, jeopardising customer and public support for the Post Office and putting jobs at risk. It would not change the freeze on public sector pay budgets that is currently in place.”

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