CHIEF Minister Tony Brown has defended his decision not to intervene in the escalating post dispute.
Postal workers – 272 out of 450 in total – have until next Wednesday (March 16) to vote on strike action.
The Communication Workers’ Union and Post Office chiefs have been locked in talks since last April, when staff were told there would be no pay rise due to the government’s pay freeze.
Last week Mr Brown told iomtoday in an emailed statement his involvement would be ‘inappropriate’, saying: ‘I have every faith that the board of Isle of Man Post Office are dealing with this matter appropriately.’
But he refused to comment on why it was inappropriate, because he was due to face questioning on the issue in the House of Keys.
Following Tuesday’s sitting, where it was revealed 14 Post Office staff received incremental wage increases last year, the Examiner contacted him again to ask for his reasons.
‘As I said in the House of Keys, government policy is clear,’ he said.
‘The salary budgets of the public sector are frozen so there is no extra money to pay for any pay increases if in fact that was to be allowed.
‘There has not been an increase for the last year or so and there has not been an increase this year.
‘That determines the money available to boards.’
When asked whether he thought it was in the national interest for him to intervene, he said: ‘No. Staff are going through a process that is open to them therefore there is no need for me to become involved in this matter.’
When asked whether he thought it was in the island’s best interest to avoid a postal strike, he said: ‘There is no need to get involved in this matter. I have every faith in the management and chairman of the board to deal with the matter responsibly.’
He added: ‘The government is being advised of the situation, therefore there is no need for the chief minister to get involved.
‘It’s a straight forward issue. There’s a clear policy.
‘Workers, as is their right, are having a ballot. We await the outcome of this matter. There is no need to get involved in this matter.’
CWU assistant secretary Terry Pullinger said he would welcome Mr Brown’s help in resolving the row.
The Post Office declined to comment.