Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/397/4847
Saving Royal Mail from the vultures
THE THREATENED privatisation of Royal Mail has dominated this year's Communication Workers' Union (CWU) conference.
General secretary Billy Hayes pointed out to delegates that Labour's manifesto pledges to keep Royal Mail in the public sector. But the majority of postal workers are totally convinced that Allan Leighton, backed up by Blair and ex-CWU leader Alan Johnson, will start the process of privatisation over the next few months.
Delegates demanded the immediate launching of a campaign amongst postal workers and the general public to prevent Royal Mail being taken over by big-business vultures.
The more militant members of the postal section argued again and again in the general conference that unless the Labour government gave a new categorical statement that Royal Mail will not be privatised then the CWU should stop financing New Labour.
This position was narrowly defeated in an emergency motion by just a few thousand votes.
But no-one, including the pro-Labour leadership, is in any doubt that if any part of Royal Mail is privatised, the CWU will cut its political links with New Labour.
Socialist Party member Judy Griffiths had the largest applause during the continuing debate on Labour's link when she said: "Blair has privatised more than Thatcher would ever have dared."
For postal workers, this summer will be one of preparation for a massive confrontation with New Labour over their attempts to privatise Royal Mail.
The rest of the trade union movement must give them full backing and support.
The conference later voted unanimously to support the 6,000 workers in O2, who are fighting for a fair pay deal.
The company is refusing to offer a consolidated pay rise and are pushing for a deal based on performance. They want to break the principle of cost of living pay rises.
Also the performance review scheme has never been approved by the union.
The conference voted to support the CWU members in O2 if they have to take industrial action, which looks likely at the moment.
In The Socialist 16 June 2005: