Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/654/10971
Cameron 'thanks' postal workers by axing their jobs and pensions
Two days after MPs voted through the Postal Services Bill, postal workers received Royal Mail's employee newspaper, the Courier, carrying a letter from the prime minister on page three thanking us for our "excellent work" in ensuring that Christmas letters, cards and parcels were delivered.
A postal worker
'Dave' Cameron was joined by our new CEO Moya Greene in praising the workforce for continuing to provide an essential public service in the face of "the worst start to winter in living memory", as snow and ice disrupted the country for several weeks. How unbelievably hypocritical of that pair to lavish praise on us while planning to rob us of our jobs and pensions by privatising Royal Mail!
Greene was formerly head of Canada Post and appointed by the previous New Labour government in May last year, with the sole intention of delivering privatisation, whichever government was in charge. This is a task she carried out while in charge of Canadian Railways, which has been mired in scandal over a series of lethal accidents and corruption over the sale ever since.
I can't begin to describe the anger of the people I work with, or the depths to which morale has sunk. We just want to go to work and deliver a great public service but are hampered by management at the highest level, who are absolutely committed to cutting costs to the bone, resulting in mail being left in the office, undelivered.
At my office last Saturday, line managers, who are mainly ex-posties so know the job we do, were expected to cover eight rounds between five or six of them. This would mean them working from 6am well into Saturday afternoon or 'lapsing' rounds, ie no deliveries. I know some may have no sympathy with managers in these circumstances but they are Royal Mail workers too, doing a job in which they aren't given any remit to manage, only carry out instructions.
Cost-cutting in Royal Mail has been going on since I started over ten years ago. The service has been gradually eroded with the cutting of 50,000 jobs, services including second post, and the closure of mail centres in Warrington, Milton Keynes, Coventry and elsewhere which has led to a worse service in terms of later deliveries and backlogs of mail.
Workers do more for less and are constantly told that privatisation is the only option for Royal Mail because we are not profitable enough. Yet us workers created over £700 million in profit for Royal Mail, ie the government, in the last two years. But apparently, this is not enough.
We lost our final salary pension scheme two years ago because Royal Mail neglected to pay into the scheme for 13 years as there was a surplus but now, surprise surprise, there is a deficit. And the 2010 'Business Modernisation' agreement actually delivered a pay cut for more work!
All this has gone on while we remain a publicly owned company with a fairly militant workforce who have taken national strike action twice in the last three years in defence of our terms and conditions with very mixed results.
Privatisation will lead to compulsory redundancies for workers and managers, a part time and casualised workforce, the decimation of delivery services - especially in rural areas - and the raiding of our pension fund assets. Not to mention the weakening of our trade union.
Must be stopped
This government must be stopped in its tracks because the plans for cuts in, and privatisation of, public services as well as tax rises will result in a massive reduction in the living standards of millions of ordinary people in this country.
The CWU must link its Keep the Post Public campaign to the myriad local anti-cuts campaigns which are springing up around the country. Local branches should support local campaigns and the CWU nationally should support the National Shop Stewards Network's proposal for a national anti-cuts campaign. It is, after all, affiliated to the NSSN.
I would also urge everyone to try to attend any CWU Keep the Post Public marches and rallies in their area. These include Birmingham on 29 January and Beeston, Nottinghamshire, on 19 February. Further details can be found at keepthepostpublic.org.uk. These are supported by some New Labour MPs but don't let that put you off. No to ALL cuts and privatisations!
In The Socialist 19 January 2011:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news