Ken is a postman in East London.
Tell us a little bit about the work you do.
I’m a delivery postman. I get up very early and work a system called the “starburst” where I work in a team with four other postmen. We sort the mail together, load up a van and deliver five rounds. This system came in as part of the 2007 deal and we’re piloting it in our office.
Do you think that you and your colleagues get the pay and conditions that you deserve?
Probably not. People will always want more money and better conditions and understandably so, especially in the current economic climate. We have had a few big strikes and it feels like we are winning concessions — not as much as some of us would like — but it’s moving in the right direction. I expect there will be more big strikes in the years to come and we will win a little bit more.
Has the economic crisis affected your work? Has it affected the way workers think about their jobs?
Without a doubt. We are now really beginning to notice it. The workload has gone down. We have had far too many quiet periods and people are getting worried. If the letters aren’t there then the jobs aren’t there either. Unfortunately, the days of us finishing at 11am are gone and we’re having to do door-to-door deliveries of leaflets. It’s not ideal, but if these things keep us in work then we’ll do them.
What do people talk about in your workplace?
Most people at work aren’t politically motivated. Out of the 50 people at work maybe only four of us talk about politics. Some of that changed with the strike last year when people realised we were up against the government. But generally people are a bit naive when it comes to politics. Also we have a lot of migrant workers who don’t understand how British trade unions and British politics work. It’s not their fault, but that’s the way it is. In my workplace, myself and the other rep have done a lot of work in educating the other workers and organising them into the union.
What are your bosses like?
My frontline boss is very good. He used to be a postman and he knows the score and tries to play fair. His manager is a different matter. Unfortunately, he is more motivated by budgets. I haven’t got much time for him and would trust him about as far as I could throw him. The higher up you go the worse they get.
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
To be honest, I’d like to be able to just get on and do the job without all the politics. But that isn’t going to happen. I’d get my pension sorted out. That’s caused a lot of sleepless nights over the last five years. I’d like to have the same pension I had when I started 23 years ago before Leighton and Crozier trampled all over it.