March against postal move
Angry post office workers stopped traffic at the weekend when they rallied against moves that could result in job losses in Comet country.
Parts of Stevenage town centre were brought to a standstill on Saturday as around 200 postmen and women took to the streets to march from the sorting office on London Road to Town Square.
The protestors chanted “Royal Mail not for sale” and carried placards opposed to plans to close the sorting office in Hitchin and move its operations to Stevenage along with Welwyn’s post, while moving Stevenage sorting to a major new centre in Hemel Hempstead.
Paul Turnbull, area rep for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) which organised the protest, said: “It was a lively, noisy, angry march.
“We were marching against the jobs that could be lost. Staff can follow the work but that is if they are able to. It is difficult to travel to Hemel Hempstead from Stevenage in terms of public transport. We have people with disabilities and working mothers with childcare issues. “Hitchin staff aren’t particularly keen to move either. They will have to travel to Stevenage. It’s not particularly efficient for Royal Mail.
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“We don’t believe that they have been listening up until now. But now we are shouting a bit louder maybe they will.”
A Royal Mail spokesman said the move was part of a modernisation programme needed to reflect the “huge growth in electronic communications” which has resulted in 13 million less letters posted daily compared to five years ago.
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“The operational review is being undertaken on the basis of a national agreement reached earlier this year between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union which recognised that we have more mail centres than we need due to lower volumes of mail and increased automation and agreed that a significant reduction was required. This affects Stevenage as elsewhere.
“We are fully consulting with our people on our proposal to close Stevenage mail centre and transfer work to a new purpose-built mail centre in Hemel Hempstead but no final decision has yet been taken.”
The CWU said a petition against the proposals will be handed to employment minister Edward Davy. A final decision by Royal Mail on the future of the postal system in the area is expected this month.