La Poste workers to strike over "destructive" restructuring

French postal workers look set to strike tomorrow (March 29), opposing changes being made in working conditions at La Poste. The unions CFDT, CGT, SUD and CFTC have called for their postal colleagues to refuse work as part of a national day of action on the streets of France.

The unions are complaining at what they claimed to be a “worrying” deterioration of working conditions at La Poste, “destructive” restructuring and a shortage of delivery personnel, as well as safety issues for staff.

Protests were being organized last week around the country, including for outside La Poste headquarters in Paris.

The protests come against a background of declining mail volumes being suffered across the globe, a liberalisation of the postal market within Europe under EU regulations designed to breed competition, and the change in status of La Poste last year as it became a public-owned limited company in a move seen by some as opening the possibility of privatisation.

A statement from the unions said postmen and postmistresses were being forced to take extra workloads when retired colleagues are not replaced, “with repercussions on their health and personal life”.

The complaints were proven, the unions said, by a 22% increase in sick leave registered at the French post office in 2010.

The unions demanded a recruitment of workers and for La Poste to cut down on its use of temporary workers and the outsourcing of work to the private sector.

They are calling for 4,000 people to be recruited, including 2,500 postal workers in 2011. La Poste has around 289,000 workers, and is one of the largest employers in the country outside of the government.

The CGT said forecasts of a 5% decline in mail volumes for 2010 had not come to pass, a 3.2% decline reported at the end of the year. And, it pointed to La Poste’s $500m profit recorded last year as stating that job cuts were not needed.

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