§ 27. Mr. John Townend
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to meet Mr. Tom Jackson, general secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers.
§ 30. Mr. Kenneth Baker
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects next to meet Mr. Tom Jackson, general secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers.
§ Mr. Michael Marshall
My right hon. Friend met Mr. Jackson on 18 June. My hon. Friend the Minister of State met Mr. Jackson on 11 July. There are no immediate plans for further meetings.
§ Mr. Townend
When the Minister next meets Mr. Jackson, will he draw to his attention the disclosures in the Daily Mirror about the Mount Pleasant post office which was described as a skivers' paradise, with fiddles on overtime and drinking and gambling on duty? Will he ask Mr. Jackson to co-operate with the management in overcoming those abuses?
§ Mr. Harry Ewing
When the Minister next meets Tom Jackson, will he explain to him that it is impossible to attract more people to work in the Post Office when workers' wages are being deliberately depressed? Will the hon. Gentleman ignore the total rubbish expounded by his hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend)?
§ Mr. Marshall
The hon. Member should play his part in urging the union to come to an agreement on the proposals which were recommended by the union's executive.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
Is my hon. Friend aware that the greatest virtue of the Post 24 Office, in his lifetime and in mine until recently, has been its reliability? That has now been forfeited. In the circumstances, is not it time for a new start? Would it not be a good idea if the Post Office union got rid of its general secretary and my right hon. Friend fired the chairman of the Post Office?
§ Mr. Marshall
I think that it is helpful to remind the House that there are virtues here and that the picture varies from one part of the country to another. It is also right to pay tribute to those who have been trying to overcome the backlog, especially those who work in the Birmingham sorting office, where they have had bomb threats and other problems. But all these matters require a balance, and it is at that that we are looking.
§ Mr. John Silkin
When the Minister meets Mr. Tom Jackson, will he compliment him and the union on the extraordinarily good performance by the workers during the recent weekend when they worked to clear the backlog? Will the hon. Gentleman also congratulate Mr. Jackson on working in what is still the cheapest and best service in Europe?
§ Mr. Marshall
I have indicated already that we all recognise that there are some good parts of the story. We are trying to get the balance right in putting forward that story. However, there are problems within the union, and I believe that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House should support any efforts to resolve them.