Meet 'Picketing Pat' - the union rep touring Shropshire to boost morale on Royal Mail strike days

Meet Picketing Pat - the trade union version of TV creation Postman Pat - who is touring Royal Mail offices on postal strike days to lift morale and publicise the workers' cause.

'Picketing Pat' taking strike action with Shropshire colleagues
'Picketing Pat' taking strike action with Shropshire colleagues

Underneath the disguise is Conrad Hunt, aged 55, who is a union health and safety representative who was out with his comrades in Market Drayton and Whitchurch on Friday and Saturday.

Mr Hunt, from Whitchurch, has been working for Royal Mail for 36 years and is well known in Wellington having been a postie there for years before becoming a rep.

"It is about lightening the mood," said Mr Hunt. "The amount of people who give a wave is good and the number of kids who recognise the character.

"In Market Drayton on Saturday kids came up. Its a good way for the public to see that we are on strike and to highlight what it is about."

Conrad, who is married with three grown up children, preferred not to talk about the ins and outs of the dispute between the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Royal Mail.

But his colleague, Peter Kelly, the union's area delivery representative covering Shropshire and Mid Wales, said it is about changes to terms and conditions as well as pay.

"They have imposed a two per cent pay rise which will be a nine per cent cut when inflation is considered," he said.

Mr Kelly said members were worried that changes to allowances meant that pay would actually go down, while the service they provide to the public would get worse.

"There would definitely be a possibility of later deliveries to houses," he said.

Mr Kelly also praised Mr Hunt for highlighting the strikers' cause.

"It makes sure that out members feel more comfortable that their presence is being seen," he said. "It makes a serious event a bit more tolerable.

"We would like to thank members of the public for their understanding and support."

Meanwhile, the dispute goes on and another strike day has been lined up, with Royal Mail bosses say saying that 19 days of planned industrial action is "reckless".

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The CWU can be in no doubt of the impact its reckless pursuit of 19 days of industrial action has on our weakened financial position and the job security of its members.

"Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices. Continued strike action will force our customers to make those choices sooner rather than later.

“Our invitation to enter into talks through Acas remains open. Our people need the CWU leadership to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business, and to engage urgently on the changes required to adapt to customer demands in a highly competitive market.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise and delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

CWU general Secretary Dave Ward said: “Postal workers in this country will not meekly accept having their lives being made worse for the benefit of a wealthy few.

“We are seeing a national outpouring of anger from workers who are sick to the back teeth of an incompetent business elite who want to destroy a great institution, worsen working conditions and damage the communities our members serve.

“Workers will never accept the Uberisation of Royal Mail – nor will the public, who have backed us in unprecedented numbers in the past few months.

“Postal workers are not going to swerve in our determination, which is something that Royal Mail have got to realise.

“In the meantime, we urge every member of the public to stand by their postie.”

Royal Mail customers can find the latest information services during industrial action at

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