A WIRRAL MP has backed postal workers' vote for strike action after their colleagues were sacked for reportedly 'taking a tea break'. 

Mick Whitley's show of support comes after Royal Mail workers voted to take action against what a Communication Workers Union (CWU) representative called  the "petty and vindictive" sacking of four workers for reportedly taking a tea break at at the Caernarvon Castle pub, Oxton, in August.

In a ballot on Tuesday, union members at Prenton Delivery Office voted by 95.8% on a 70.6% turnout to take strike action.

The CWU say that while 11 of these employees were initially suspended for taking the breaks – which they are contractually entitled to – local management eventually ruled that four would not be returning to work earlier this month, including a worker with 44 years of unblemished service.

The dispute has led to widespread disruption of postal services since July across Prenton and Oxton with mail not arriving and some people missing hospital appointments as a result.

The decision was met with anger by an already demoralised workforce of around 30 employees – as well as in the wider community, which has been subject to persistent postal delays due to under-recruitment and management cuts.

Royal Mail has denied it was an issue of employees stopping for a tea break, saying employees were asked not to move off their route and drive additional mileage to gather during working hours. Warnings not to do this were given prior to dismissal, it was stressed.

The company added that any industrial action may only impact Prenton if there is industrial action, not other delivery offices across the borough.

Mr Whitley, in whose constituency the sorting office is situated, backed union calls for management to get back around the negotiating table to work out a solution where all workers will be reinstated.

Mr Whitley said: "The sacking of four postal workers at the Prenton Delivery Office is the end result of a management offensive that began with the suspension 11 Communication Workers Union (CWU) members who had taken a tea break off site.

"The action by the bosses caused chaos with local delivery services and prompted local community groups and Liberal Democrat Councillors in the worst affected Oxton ward submitting a petition calling for their reinstatement.

"I wrote to the local management calling on them to lift the suspensions but, as with the petition, my plea for sanity at the office was ignored.

"Now, following a number of appeal hearings four posties have been sacked. In response the CWU balloted for strike action to demand the reinstatement of the four.

"The issue here was never about tea breaks that harmed no one and did not impact one bit on the level of service.

"The real issue is that this is part and parcel of Royal Mail’s campaign of union busting. The sackings came after a very solid and effective strike last year. I fully supported that strike and was proud to join its picket line.

"Management, on the other hand, decided that union strength had to be smashed. The current sackings sit alongside the management getting rid of union activists in Prenton.

“But the union in Prenton is strong and the solidarity of the workers in Birkenhead has delivered a 95.8% vote in favour of this latest strike.

"I fully support this action and want to add my voice to those calling on the management to stop their attacks on the workers and the union, sit down and negotiate and rescind the sackings.”

A CWU spokesperson said: "The result is a clear demonstration of the anger workers feel about this petty, vindictive attack on their respected colleagues.

“It is a clear rejection of a culture of bullying and mismanagement in the workplace.

“This situation won’t be solved by management doubling down on poorly-handled decisions, but with a decent compromise that sees these workers reinstated and the workforce treated with the respect they deserve.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We have received notification of the result of a local ballot at the Prenton Delivery Office.

“This is disappointing, however, we will continue to engage with the CWU and seek to secure a resolution. We will have plans in place to maintain service in the event of any industrial action.”