Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/785/17622
Postal workers go into battle
Gary Clark, assistant branch secretary, Scotland No.2 branch CWU, personal capacity
By a massive four to one majority CWU members in Royal Mail have voted to take strike action in defence of their terms and conditions after the privatisation of the company.
It's clear that the government undervalued the company to make sure that the threat of industrial action would not scare off private investors. The share price has already increased to 500p at the time of writing.
City spivs, guaranteed 70% of the shares, cashed in for a quick profit, where ten million shares were traded in the first 30 seconds. In seven minutes the price rose by 39%.
So the question has to asked why were city firms like Lazard, Goldman Sachs and Barclays paid around £24 million for 'advice' about the sell-off.
Clearly the government cares more about big business making a killing on the stock exchange than it does about providing a vital public service with good terms and conditions for ordinary workers.
At this year's Labour Party conference the CWU motion calling on the next Labour government to renationalise Royal Mail was carried without opposition.
But the Labour leadership rushed around giving media statements saying that they will not renationalise Royal Mail.
Without doubt there will be motions going to the next CWU conference calling for disaffiliation from the Labour Party but we must do more than that and call for the trade union movement to build a party to represent the working class.
Privatisation is a setback for the thousands of postal workers and the CWU but this should not be seen as the end of the dispute.
We are entering a vital stage in shaping what type of company the new Royal Mail will be.
Management will see an opportunity to attack our terms and conditions.
The government and the private investors will want the new company to adopt the working practices of other mail companies, with poorly paid workers on poor terms and conditions.
That's why our members have voted massively for industrial action.
We must ensure that any agreement includes no breaking up of the company and franchising of delivery offices or delivery rounds and no introduction of a cheaper second-tier workforce.
We must fight job losses and maintain and improve our pension schemes. We should go further and end the constant cuts, unmanageable workloads and the bullying management culture.
We must be prepared to increase the action if required and link the action with other trade unions.
4 November should be just the start
A Coventry postie
The scandalous fire-sale of yet another public utility was brought forward in an attempt to dissuade workers from voting 'Yes' in the ballot for action against privatisation. And the chief executive of Royal Mail, Moya Greene, even pledged to pay workers who cross the picket line a £300 bonus in December!
But workers realised that we stand to lose a hell of a lot more than 300 quid after the three-year protection of terms and conditions offered by Royal Mail expires - our jobs for a start!
Not to mention the erosion of our pension entitlements. Entitlements because Royal Mail took a pension payment 'holiday' for 13 years while we carried on paying in.
And now our pensions are under attack again. Even after the government 'guaranteed' our pensions. In exchange for the £25 billion of assets in the fund of course.
Royal Mail may now be a PLC. But the workers still treat your mail with TLC. We care about the service we provide. And we're willing to fight to show it.
The initial strike date is 4 November. Now the CWU should talk to the FBU, the teaching unions and any other union who is in dispute, to coordinate future strike action and show the ruling class who really runs the country.
In The Socialist 23 October 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns