The Socialist 25 May 2006
Time to stand up to NHS cuts!
Postal workers call for action
POSTAL WORKERS have delivered a thumping rejection to Royal Mail's plans to impose a 2.9% pay offer and to implement backdoor privatisation of the Post Office. The result of the consultative ballot by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) was announced at its annual conference. It showed that over 98% of CWU members who responded supported the union's position of keeping Royal Mail a publicly owned and run company. Ken Smith reports.
The ballot also showed postal workers are opp-osed to the 40,000 plus job losses that Royal Mail are considering as part of their reorganisation of postal services. In a 60% turnout - with over 90,000 members backing the union - the membership also effectively committed itself to fighting Royal Mail's recently imposed 2.9% pay deal.
The union has now given Royal Mail management - in particular Alan Leighton and Alan Crozier - four weeks to reopen negotiations on this year's pay deal and other related issues or the union will begin a ballot on industrial action.
Even before the ballot result was announced, Royal Mail bosses were trying to conduct a negative spin operation about the results. They claimed it was unrepresentative and that they would get an independent auditor to try and scrutinise the union's ballot.
In response, CWU general secretary, Billy Hayes, said it was Alan Leighton who had carried out an illegal ballot - referring to Alan Leighton's claims that, in a poll, 80,000 postal workers had expressed an interest in the Royal Mail share scheme.
Also anticipating Royal Mail's attacks, the union conducted a telephone poll of 1,000 of its members and 68% said that they were very angry at the imposition of the pay deal.
Gary Clarke, CWU Scotland Number 2 and a member of the CWI in Scotland, said this is "the most crucial time for postal workers since I've been on the job. After three years of a constant onslaught by management there is huge resentment among CWU members against the bosses. The mood is definitely there to show the bosses that they will go this far and no further."
Other delegates warned the union leaders not to repeat the mistakes of three years ago when they thought they had a 'yes' vote for action in the bag. One delegate warned that this could be a defining conflict of trade unionism in the 21st century so far.
There is real anger among CWU postal members that is definitely there to be tapped into. Postal union leaders say they are willing to negotiate but they feel that Alan Leighton and Royal Mail management want to provoke this conflict. CWU members, however, are demanding that their leadership stands firm and actually delivers on promises to push Royal Mail management back on this issue. See also page 5.
Socialist Party members should visit postal sorting offices and depots immediately and make contact with postal counter staff who are also likely to be balloting for industrial action on the separate issue of job cuts.
In this issue
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Environment: Nuclear power
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis