Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 09:30
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POSTAL services have been thrown into chaos after a whirlwind six hours yesterday when two sets of workers walked out on strike and one of their colleagues staged a rooftop protest.
About 100 distribution and processing staff were today continuing their official indefinite walkout at the Leek Road sorting office, in Stoke.
They were joined yesterday by dozens of delivery staff who refused to cross the picket line.
A decision on whether the delivery staff were continuing their unofficial strike was being made at a meeting before work today. Postmen at the Burslem delivery office were also expected back at work this morning after their Scotia Road depot was closed because of postman Paul Dawson's rooftop protest.
Dad-of-one Mr Dawson stayed on the roof for almost seven hours after being told he had been sacked for a previous rooftop demonstration in March.
The 39-year-old, from Ball Green, came down in the early afternoon and was being questioned by police last night on suspicion of a public order offence.
The two disputes affected deliveries in the ST1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 postcode areas yesterday.
Normal collections in ST 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12 areas were still being affected by the Leek Road action today. And in Congleton some Royal Mail staff walked out for about two hours yesterday morning in a row over a suspended worker.
Speaking from the roof, former policeman Mr Dawson said: "I want the world to know of the injustice I am suffering.
" I have nothing to lose now I have been sacked, so this is the best way of showing people about my situation."
Supporters threw food to Mr Dawson as police officers, including a trained negotiator, tried to coax him down.
His sister Claire Dawson said: "I am very proud of Paul for standing up for what he believes is right. There is fantastic support for him."
Communication Workers' Union (CWU) divisional representative Mick Kavanagh said: "The management should hang their heads in shame."
At Leek Road, sorting office staff who face having their jobs moved to Wolverhampton today vowed to continue with their indefinite strike.
CWU branch secretary Andy Plant said: "Royal Mail wants to transfer jobs from Stoke to Wolverhampton. The employers have given us 18 full-time posts here, but the rest will have to go to Wolverhampton or take redundancy.
"We're classing this as compulsory redundancy, but the employers are calling it voluntary redundancy."
Delivery staff at Leek Road walked out in sympathy for their colleagues and urged both sides to re-start talks.
Delivery worker Mick Rathbone said: "We couldn't cross the picket line. We wanted to show our support for the distribution staff."
A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused."
In addition to the Leek Road dispute, postal workers in London were also striking today.