Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/588/7548
Royal Mail dispute
National strike action to halt attacks on workers and our postal services
Postal workers strike, photo by Paul Mattsson
THE RECENT strikes by postal workers and the many balloted workplaces around the country are a direct result of the war by Royal Mail on its workforce and the Communications Workers' Union (CWU).
There can be no doubt that what Adam Crozier and the rest of the overpaid bosses of Royal Mail hope to achieve from their war is a compliant workforce and a union which will no longer be capable of defending its members.
The bullying and harassment of workers on a daily basis, coupled with the increasing attacks on the CWU reps by a process of cutting back their facilities, is a serious attack on workers' conditions.
Behind the bosses stands the New Labour government that, smarting over its inability to part-privatise (for now) Royal Mail, is now swearing revenge on the union.
The CWU must quickly move to organise a national one-day stoppage as part of its fightback to prevent Royal Mail's 'modernisation' plans which will lead to job losses, pay cuts, increased workloads and a worse public service.
Postal workers strike, photo by Paul Mattsson
A LIVELY march by striking London postal workers was followed by a packed CWU rally in Westminster central hall. From the platform an RMT executive member gave solidarity greetings, calling for trade union unity to resist the employers' offensive that wants to make workers pay for the recession. To applause, he pointed to the jobs fightback at Lindsey oil refinery as the way forward.
The biggest cheer of the day went to the CWU rep Martin Walsh who said the union has had enough of attacks on its members from the government and that the London division will ballot its members on disaffiliating from New Labour. An embarrassed Kate Hoey - a CWU sponsored Labour MP who spoke next - said she agreed that postal workers should vote on their continued affiliation to Labour!
CWU members in London will strike on 25, 27 and 28 July. Industrial action will also affect areas of Scotland, eastern England and the South West.
'For a one-day national strike'
"WE'RE READY for a national strike", workers at the Mid Rhondda Delivery Office told The Socialist. "People have had a gut full of being bullied and harassed. We're ready to take on this government, once and for all.
"We don't need a one day strike. We need an all-out strike until the company is ready to talk to the union. One-day strikes don't achieve anything. All you do is lose a day's pay.
"Six jobs have been taken out of this office and the manager here has had a £6,500 bonus.
"We need a national ballot. Then, people can either stand up for their rights or accept what the Royal Mail throws at them."
Socialist Party Wales
'Labour is working for rich people'
STRIKES ON 8 and 17 July were solid in Tower Hamlets, London. A picket at the Docklands delivery office in E14 said: "I'm not happy about doing more for less. Nobody's increasing managers' work. Not one person in the office disagrees with the strike, everyone is out to protect their jobs. We'll keep on fighting. Privatising it would ruin the company, absolutely rip it to bits."
The situation on the ground is very different from the 'failing business' you read about in the media. Another picket described increasing demands on postal workers: "The growth that we're seeing here is phenomenal. I've just had 750 extra calls (addresses to deliver to) open on my walk. I haven't even got a sorting frame for it, I'm sorting the mail on my lap."
Although pickets were pleased that privatisation of Royal Mail had been shelved for now, they were clear about the need to continue fighting: "Privatisation will raise its head again after the next election whoever's in [government]. It's similar to the east coast rail line - they [National Express] cream off the profits then when times get hard they hand it back to the mugs."
A third picket, like many others, was keen to spread the strike and frustrated that their union was still donating money to the Labour Party: "It's not a good idea by the Labour government to cut public services. We're in a recession, if they cut jobs it will worsen the recession. The CWU shouldn't fund the Labour Party because the Labour Party isn't working for labour people, it's working for rich people."
In The Socialist 21 July 2009:
No Job Cuts
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party campaigns
Marxist analysis: history