POSTAL workers in Helensburgh have joined those around the country in walking out amid an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

The staff downed tools at the town’s delivery office on Friday, December 9, and are due to do so again on December 14 and 15.

Unless a deal is struck, further strike action is due on December 23 and 24 – during one of the busiest spells of the year for the service.

The industrial action comes as members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are embroiled in an increasingly bitter row which has sparked a serious of walkouts.

Brian Lafferty,Glasgow and District Amal branch representative with the CWU, told the Advertiser: “What started out earlier in the year as a simple pay claim has quickly grown into a dispute to protect our members’ jobs, terms and conditions and, as we see it, the service we provide to the public.

“This dispute has been fought against the backdrop of claims from the Royal Mail claiming its financial condition is in a precarious state. The business, however, made £758 million profit last year, and despite economic warnings, decided to award shareholders £576m of this.

“At the same time senior management, including the CEO, awarded themselves huge bonuses. All this whilst imposing a meagre two per cent pay award to the workers who generate these profits.”

Mr Lafferty continued: “Royal Mail has launched attacks on employee terms and conditions, with a raft of longstanding agreements being binned including current sick pay policy being changed, allowances slashed, compulsory Sunday attendance at a flat pay rate and annualised hours amongst the main ones.

“Most worrying of all and the main driver for the industrial action is the threat to our members’ jobs.

“We believe any redundancies should be done through natural wastage and in line with our current voluntary redundancy package.

"Royal Mail, by executive action, has slashed this package by more than half in some cases and will not give guarantees on no compulsory redundancies after next March, which we find totally unacceptable.”

Lending her support to the striking workers last Friday was Helensburgh constituency MSP Jackie Baillie, who joined them on the picket line.

She said: “I was pleased to support our local posties by joining the picket at Helensburgh delivery office on Friday morning.

“They are rightly fighting for a pay rise more in line with the rate of inflation as costs are increasing across the board.

"These hard-working people continued in their daily duties throughout the pandemic and kept the spirits up among many local people. They deserve much more than a derisory two per cent increase and unfair changes to working conditions.

“I fully back them and hope that Royal Mail bosses can get round the table, listen to their demands and reach a settlement sooner rather than later.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The CWU know full well that in a business losing more than £1 million a day, we need to agree changes to the way we work so that we can fund the pay offer of up to nine per cent we have already made.

“While the CWU refuses to accept the need for change, it’s our customers and our people who suffer.

"Strike action has already cost our people £1,200 each. The money allocated to the pay deal risks being eaten away by the costs of further strike action.

“The CWU is striking at our busiest time, deliberately holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.

“We are doing everything we can to deliver Christmas for our customers and settle this dispute.

"During the last strike days, we delivered more than 700,000 parcels, and more than 11,000 delivery and processing staff returned to work. We recovered our service quickly, but the task becomes more challenging as Christmas nears.

“We remain willing to talk at any time about our best and final offer and urge the CWU to call off their damaging strike action.”