Fears strike action could leave postal votes uncounted

PUBLISHED: 17:12 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:19 04 November 2019

Strike action by members of the CWU could mean postal votes in Norfolk do not arrive on time
Pic: PA

Strike action by members of the CWU could mean postal votes in Norfolk do not arrive on time Pic: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

“Welching” bosses and “irresponsible union barons” have been blamed for putting Norfolk’s general election votes at risk amid a bitter industrial dispute.

Fears are growing that a series of postal strikes could leave Norfolk voters unable to take part in the general election.

The Communication Workers Union is locked in a vicious dispute with the Royal Mail which has led to 97% of members voting to take industrial action.

Fearing a chaotic run up to Christmas, management asked the CWU to reconsider but so far the union is refusing to budge leaving thousands of people in the East potentially without a voice on December 12.

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Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith said the union should back down and was acting "irresponsibly".

But Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis believes it will be the Royal Mail bosses who are to blame if people miss out.

He said: "If Royal Mail bosses hadn't welched on the pay and conditions agreement made last year, we wouldn't be here. The way to avoid a strike is for bosses to immediately honour the promises they've made. If they don't do that, voters will know who to blame."

Ms Smith added: "I'd be really disappointed if Corbyn's union barons irresponsibly disrupted postal votes and Christmas as well. That's what people would have to fear all year round from a Corbyn government. I would urge postal voters to vote promptly to avoid delay in any case."

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A population above the average age and the rural nature of much of the region has led to a successful uptake in postal votes in East Anglia in recent elections.

Analysts also believe a December election will prompt people to seek postal votes in order to avoid having to brave any bad weather.

Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said Royal Mail had broken the agreement that was previously reached: "Our members have voted to fight for that agreement against those who seek to break up the great British postal service in the interest of fast-track profit and greed."

Royal Mail claims it is sticking to the agreement and has awarded workers two pay rises since last year.

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