The Socialist 11 October 2007 |
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"They need to be exposed. This government doesn't care about the workers, they are only interested in money and power." These were the words of a striking Royal Mail worker outside Lincoln sorting office on 6 October.
Marc Glasscoe, Branch secretary, Lincoln City Unison (Personal capacity)
Bitterness felt by the pickets was clearly visible. While the government talks about economic prosperity and cutting unemployment, postal workers are facing 40,000 job cuts, attacks on their terms and conditions and the attempted destruction of their union.
Needless to say, if Gordon Brown had gone ahead with calling an early election he would have had a tough time in getting many votes from members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
Brown was welcomed with open arms though by the right-wing TUC leaders at their conference last month. For workers on the ground the picture is very different.
Over the last few years the government has overseen attacks on the civil service, cuts and closures in the NHS and a brutal assault on workers' pensions.
There have been major clashes with the rail workers and firefighters, while teachers, nurses, council workers and others are facing the prospect of a pay cut in real terms. The list is almost endless, with workers in the public sector facing a constant barrage of attacks on their pay and conditions.
For more than ten years New Labour has carried out a programme of cuts and privatisation in the public sector which would make most Tories jealous.
Brown set out his stall when he copied his predecessor, Tony Blair, by inviting Margaret Thatcher, butcher of the unions, to visit Downing Street. Just like her, Brown is determined to smash the collective power of workers for the benefit of his friends in big business.
It is absolutely critical that the CWU is successful in its action. The government's plans for Royal Mail are the blueprint for all public services. The postal workers have taken a stand against the attacks on their pay and conditions.
It is now essential that workers in other sectors support them and follow their lead. Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union workers have already taken some strike action and are balloting for more.
Local government workers in Unison are currently being balloted on whether to take strike action in November over a pathetically low pay offer. Many are understandably nervous about this, but now is not the time to show weakness.
With the postal workers taking a solid stand and others such as the prison officers also taking action recently, we have an opportunity which we cannot afford to miss.
The Brown bounce has become the Brown wobble, as he backed down from calling a general election. The government is showing signs of uncertainty.
Now is the time for decisive action across the public sector. Only by standing firm against all the attacks will we be able to maintain rights and conditions won by collective action in the past.
Throughout the public sector we must join the postal workers in showing that we will not take the attacks lying down.
If the government and employers want a fight then we are ready to give it to them!