Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/599/8283
Support post workers, this is no time to equivocate
A number of trade union leaders, MPs and other individuals (including Tony Benn), sent a letter to the Guardian on the post strikes which implicitly criticised the union as well as the management (www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/22/royal-mail-postal-strike). Two leaders of the National Shop Stewards Network sent off the following response.
The letter from various trade unionists and Labour MPs ('Don't let this dispute drag the post down', Guardian, 23/10/09) seeks to take a neutral stance on the postal strikes when what trade unionists should be doing is giving full backing to the postal workers and their union the CWU. The letter's signatories, like Unison general secretary Dave Prentis, should not pretend that it is all down to a lack of preparedness by the postal workers to accept so-called 'modernisation'. It is instead a case of the postal workers being left with no option but to fight back against the massive attack on their conditions and their trade union.
How would other union leaders react to being in effect told that they are luddites standing in the face of 'progress'? Modernisation is a euphemism for cuts in workers' rights, conditions and standards of living. Posties are facing an onslaught every day with bullying managers demanding more and more work from less and less workers - 63,000 jobs have already gone, with those that remain being forced to take up the slack. They are often forced to work over their normal time without compensation as a result.
That is what this dispute is all about, something that every trade unionist facing the attacks of the bosses would recognise. Trade union leaders like Dave Prentis, Hugh Lanning of the PCS and Keith Norman of Aslef would be better off representing their own members who also face massive attacks rather than pretending to be some sort of arbiters standing between the bosses of Royal Mail and the postal workers.
Bill Mullins and Linda Taaffe, National Shop Stewards Network
National Shop Stewards Network North Wales
The next meeting will be on 3 November, 7.30pm at the Labour Club, 87 Conway Road, Llandudno Junction, LL31 9NE.
In The Socialist 28 October 2009:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party reviews