Archive article from The Socialist Issue 517
Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/2008/517/np2447.htm
Marching behind the Burslem 12
THE CAMPAIGN to reinstate the victimised Burslem 12 escalated last weekend as working-class solidarity flooded the streets of Stoke-on-Trent. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) national march in support of Burslem's striking postal workers was attended by postal workers from throughout the UK.
Glen Watson, Stoke Socialist Party
The march, an awe-inspiring sight as it went through the city, showed that public support is firmly behind the Burslem postal workers and the national battle against bullying bosses. The 1,000-strong crowd couldn't all get inside Hanley museum for the rally. A warm reception greeted the Burslem 12 and the thunderous applause reverberated through the building.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said that the impressive turnout disproved the idea that people today are not interested in politics or solidarity.
He delivered a scathing attack on the 'scabs', the management currently maintaining Burslem postal depot, saying their betrayal would be remembered long after memories of economic hardship had faded for those loyal to the cause. His fiery rhetoric had an impact on the rally but lacked concrete proposals of what to do next.
CWU postal deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, said that this had been the most difficult year for the CWU since 1971. He praised the twelve as 'inspirations.'
He also offered strong indications that the union would be forced to escalate its own action, as well as a promise to retrieve the money being lost through the strikes. £15,000 was donated at the rally by other trade union branches and £2,500 came from other workers watching the march go by.
Burslem postal worker Dave Conliffe junior said that Royal Mail's crusade against the Twelve is nothing more that union-busting. Announcing that ballots for strike action would go ahead across the 12 depots in the area shortly, Dave urged workers there to deliver a 'yes' vote and escalate the strike action within the area.
The rally's most impressive aspect was the sense of determination from every participant in the struggle. A suspended Burslem postal worker, one of the twelve suffering first-hand from Royal Mail victimisation, acknowledged the hardships faced by himself and others so far and conceded that it might take many more days of struggle to achieve a victory.
Despite this, he showed the bravery and determination that runs through the twelve workers when he promised that "they will never, ever take the heart and soul out of this office... because we are in this together".
These attacks should be taken up nationally as Royal Mail are intent on weakening the union. There should be no more negotiation on 'modernisation' and flexibility' whilst Royal Mail are victimising postal workers.
Postal workers speak to The Socialist
SOCIALIST PARTY members asked postal workers what they thought of the march and rally. Jase, from Burslem, said: "It was brilliant to see all the CWU banners from all over the country".
A postal worker who travelled from the North East was clear what he wanted: "Billy (Hayes) and Dave (Ward) have 'talked the talk' now they need to 'walk the walk'.
"This is becoming a national problem and we need national action in response".
Dave Evans, one of the suspended 12, told us that it was: "a special day that I will remember for the rest of my life."
Jane from Burslem said: "The march was uplifting but I was a bit disappointed that there were not more banners from other trade unions.
"Stoke Socialist Party's banner was the only one from a political party and only they had placards actually calling for the reinstatement of victimised postal workers".
A worker who didn't want to be named through fear of management reprisals said: "I am a postman from the Stoke depot and it was great to see the support for the Burslem lads.
"What we need now is unity across our area so that management's bullying and harassment is stamped out and these people can begin to relive their lives".
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