After what’s been called a two-year “David and Goliath” battle with the country’s second largest employer, culminating with a 24-hour wildcat walkout in November, over one hundred Communication Workers’ Union members at Bridgwater Royal Mail Delivery Office in Somerset have secured the reinstatement of Andrew Mootoo, a profoundly deaf postman with MS.
Andrew starts back to work on a part-time desk-based computer job, scanning in undelivered packets, today. He quoted Bob Marley’s band The Wailers, saying: “The longer the battle, the sweeter the victory!”
On Thursday, the day after his reinstatement was confirmed, a gate meeting was held, with Andrew and his wife present, to celebrate a remarkable victory for the Communication Workers’ Union/CWU.
After the gate meeting, the BSL interpreter for Andrew said she had never experienced anything like it, and the speeches had given her goose bumps.
Dave Chapple, with Darren Granter one of two Bridgwater CWU Reps still under threat of dismissal for their part in the November illegal walkout, said:
“Monday will finalise a victory that should be celebrated, not just as part of the TUC HeartUnions week, not just as the latest in an amazing series of strike victories at the Bridgwater Delivery Office, not just as a truly-even for Bridgwater-remarkable act of working-class solidarity, but,perhaps most of all, as a victory for disabled workers everywhere.
How many other workplaces would have held a near-unanimous walkout to support someone who hadn’t been at work for nearly two years?
The unavoidable fact is that Royal Mail’s preferred option was always compulsory transfer out of Bridgwater, or Ill Health Retirement. The most ignorant and prejudiced Royal Mail managers we met, genuinely felt that the dole was the only long-term option. In any other workplace that could or would not risk a lightening strike as a shock tactic, the dole it would have been. “
Andrew Mootoo said:
“After all this time I didn’t expect, suddenly, to find Royal Mail positive about my return to work. I want to say a big thank you to all Bridgwater CWU members who went on strike for me: that was crucial. I cannot believe I have been waiting for two years and one month to return to work. I call it “The Longest Road to CWU Victory”: I am so proud of our militant history here at Bridgwater!”
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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