Addressing postal strikes

ROYAL MAIL&rsquo;s intension to hire 30,000 temporary workers while its staff withdraw labour in a nation-wide strike got blood boiling over the weekend, and led to fears of public disorder.<br /><br />As unions questioned the legality of the move, fears arose that the industrial action would lead to violence, drawing comparisons with the miners&rsquo; strikes and the Wapping dispute of the 1980s.<br /><br />The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPU) said it had put out guidance to police nationwide, urging them to ready themselves for picket-line clashes.<br /><br />Tempers are fraying; localised striking has so far caused a pile up of parcels gauged at between 4m (Royal Mail reckons) and 20m (the union says) pieces. Modernisation at the group means 50,000 jobs have been axed since 2002, and unions expect another 60,000 to go in the next two years.<br /><br />And a war of words has been escalating over the strikes, with City minister Lord Myners calling the industrial action, which will kick off on Thursday, &ldquo;a stupid move&rdquo;. He added that &ldquo;lives and jobs are at risk&rdquo; if they go ahead.<br /><br />Myners slated the motivation for the planned walk out, saying people would find other ways of communicating in the absence of Royal Mail, only making the service more redundant.<br /><br />Business secretary Lord Mandelson was singing from the same hymn sheet, calling the dispute &ldquo;a matter of life and death for the future of Royal Mail&rdquo;.