Sunday, July 8, 2018

National Postal strike - Exeter Emergency Delivery Service -20 Jan 1971

Above is a beautiful First Day cover of the National Postal strike - Exeter Emergency Delivery Service -20 Jan 1971

The first national postal strike created the unique situation in British postal history where private postal services were allowed to operate under licence.

The first full national strike in the history of the British Post Office took place from Wednesday 20th January to Sunday 7th March 1971. It took place against a background of increasing inflation and worsening industrial relations over the preceding decade, both in the Post Office and in the country in general. On 15th January a pay offer from the Post Office Board was rejected by the executive of the Union of Post Office Workers. An "all-out" strike was called to start at midnight on 19th/20th January.

Although local mail deliveries were possible in some areas, either where the postmen did not go on strike or as some gradually returned to work, the bulk of the country's postal services came to a complete halt. 

The Government announced that the Post Office's monopoly on carrying letters would be suspended for the duration of the strike. Several hundred private posts were set up throughout the country; some of these were of course "philatelic", but many operated with efficiency and transported significant quantities of mail, although normally at a much higher price than the normal first class rate. A number of these posts linked up in an "Association of Mail Services" which provided for transmission of letters from post to post across the country, and also to overseas destinations. Considerable use was also made of the existing alternatives, and of course the Armed Forces had their own postal arrangements.

The strike dragged on for seven weeks as the Union and the Post Office were unable to agree. Eventually, faced with rapidly worsening finances, the Union Executive proposed a public enquiry as a peace plan to Employment Secretary Robert Carr. A ballot resulted in a majority for ending the strike, and postmen were told to return to work at 9am, Monday 8th March.

These stamps are printed Exeter Emergency Delivery Service

Reference taken from :

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