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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 October 2007

Support postal workers: decisive action can win

Postal workers on strike in 2007, photo Socialist Party

Postal workers on strike in 2007, photo Socialist Party

Royal Mail's unrelenting attacks on postal workers' conditions have forced the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to re-start strike action. Postal workers are facing a battle to protect their conditions and trade union rights as well as to defend our postal service. Two 48-hour strikes are planned between 4 and 10 October, followed by sectional action from 15 October.

Jane James

The whole postal service is under attack. The Post Office, with backing from the government, has just earmarked 180 post offices to close under its plan to shut 2,500 by the end of next year. All workers must show solidarity with CWU members to save our postal service.

Strike action in the summer was called off for talks but Royal Mail have never seriously negotiated with the union and now want to implement sweeping changes to terms and conditions.

In return for a 6.7% pay increase over two years (a pay cut when inflation is taken into account) postal workers would have to accept much worse conditions.

Flexible attendances, change to shift times, stopping payments for delivering leaflets, annualised hours, a worse redundancy package, taking away trade union rights and a rotten pension deal - including raising the retirement age by five years, are being forced on postal workers.

Decent conditions and union rights in the workplace have never been handed to postal workers by management but have been won and maintained through years of determined trade union struggle.

With so much at stake a decisive strategy is needed to defeat Royal Mail's plans. While the planned strikes will have a big impact, it is increasingly likely that all-out national strike action will be needed to win the dispute.

While Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier receives over a million pounds in pay in one year, ordinary postal workers are paying the price for Royal Mail trying to compete with private mail companies.

Management want to hammer down the conditions of Royal Mail workers to the level of the privatised delivery firms which have little or no trade union organisation.

New Labour has encouraged this privatisation, yet the CWU contributed 735,000 to the Labour Party between 2002 and 2005. The CWU, along with other unions, should stop funding Labour now and use their resources to build an alternative political voice for working people.

With the possibility that this could turn into a long dispute, all trade unions must give their backing to the postal workers, including donations and workplace collections as well as supporting demonstrations and rallies.

Support groups should now be set up and demos organised in every region of the country including a national demonstration.

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