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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 March 2007

A crucial time for Royal Mail pensions

ROYAL MAIL'S "Financial Re-organisation and Investment Plan" is the biggest threat so far to postal workers' pensions.

Gary Clark, vice-chair Scotland No.2 Branch, Communication Workers' Union (CWU)

They want to close the final salary scheme for new employees and increase existing employees' contributions - a pay cut in real terms - and force us to work longer.

The so-called six-month consultation period is nothing more than a paper exercise, a legal hurdle they must observe before they can implement change. We must use the six months to build a huge campaign to prepare members for industrial action.

At the same time, management have announced a "phantom share" scheme. This is not their first choice and is a set-back for them. They wanted real share issue and part privatisation.

This proposal is nothing more than a bonus scheme but the wording is very important. The term "share issue" indicates their real intentions.

What they have not said is how many more savings must we make? What jobs will go? And what will it mean for future pay rises?

What is also clear is that the Labour government have been working hand-in-hand with Royal Mail management, whilst ignoring the union.

After many years of taking hundreds of millions of pounds out of the industry Royal Mail must fund our whole pensions. And they must stop handing out millions of pounds of contracts to private postal companies.

It is clear that Royal Mail are attempting to bypass the union, both nationally and locally. The union leadership faces a clear choice, which will be crucial for the future of our industry.

If the union leadership is serious about defending its members' interests, it must build the opposition to Royal Mail and the government.

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