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CWU strike ballot - why I'm voting Yes
Carl Harper, CWU activist and Peterborough Socialist Party
When I started as a postman at Royal Mail I felt like I was providing a much-loved public service.
Businesses, both large and small, trust us with important documents. The elderly need us to deliver letters; in many cases their main source of communication, while also providing them with a regular face to talk to (and on occasion fix their leaky kitchen tap!).
The sick and disabled rely on us to deliver medicines. Children delight as we deliver birthday and Christmas cards and presents.
In my office the only people who had part-time jobs were those who wanted them. There was overtime to boost our modest wages if we wanted it and we looked forward to a half-decent pension.
But following the Tory-led coalition privatising the company, there is now a very different ethos.
We are still required to deliver those items customers demand, but now profits are syphoned off to wealthy investors.
Chaotic and continuous savings plans are introduced to increase dividends, whatever the effect it has on the customers and the workforce. Deliveries get longer and longer and increased workload is accompanied by pressure and even threats. The reduced overtime opportunity is effectively a pay-cut for many.
Our pension is to be replaced with a scheme which robs us of hundreds of pounds a year in our retirement.
We are demanding pay, terms and conditions which reflect the service we provide. Hours which are appreciative of the demanding workload. And a wage in retirement.
Voting Yes not only sends a signal to the union that these should be fought for, but also to the business that we do not accept their race-to-the-bottom business model.
A strong and resounding Yes vote will also fly in the face of the Tories' attempts to scupper industrial action by introducing thresholds.
Importantly, it could also show there exists industrial strength which could be harnessed into a political campaign for the renationalisation of Royal Mail.