The Socialist 8 June 2011
We are fighting back!
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CWU conference - unanimous call for 24-hour general strike
At the Communications Workers Union (CWU) conference at the end of May the scale of the attacks on postal and telecoms workers was put alongside the wider government attacks. Delegates called unanimously for a 24-hour general strike and on the CWU to participate in local anti-cuts bodies.
The postal conference, in three emergency motions, attempted 'to draw a line in the sand' to warn bosses and government over Royal Mail (RM) privatisation, pensions cuts and job losses.
Workers in three London Mail centres have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action. This dispute could begin soon and quickly become a national dispute as London will need the support of the rest of the CWU and other mail centres.
But confidence has fallen following the loss of the final salary pension scheme two years ago and the wave of closures and job losses following the Business Modernisation Agreement. It is vital that CWU members join together to challenge this attack.
Privatisation is back on the agenda and bosses are on the attack. They are seeking to 'embed' the union in the company before a private firm takes over. Emergency motions to fight back were carried overwhelmingly or unanimously.
In the general conference delegates gave a rousing response to a speech from Lenny Shail of Coventry about how few Labour MPs had backed John McDonnell's trade union rights bill or opposed pension indexation changes from RPI to CPI.
But the issue of how the union strengthens its political representation remained unaddressed, other than a few unenthusiastic hopes that Labour may change. Therefore the dominant feeling was a recognition that the union will have to rely on its own industrial strength.
Angry CWU telecoms members meet
CWU telecoms conference reflected the anger of members in the industry. Motions calling for changes to the attendance agreements that have been used to invoke the use of compulsory overtime were carried. Motions calling for pension increases to be linked to RPI and for changes to the 'parking at home' agreements, which are being used to force members to work extra hours, were also carried.
The misnamed Left Activists Network-led executive showed its real colours in opposing a motion calling for the pay settlement for next year to attempt to rectify the losses incurred by members in the recent three-year pay deal. This gave a glimpse of how divorced from the membership they have become.
Conference overwhelmingly supported a motion calling for a campaign of opposition, including industrial action, on the issue of performance management which is being used to 'manage' people out of the business. The executive opposed the motion once again demonstrating their failure to grasp what is happening in the workplaces.
Members were enthused by this victory and left the conference determined to ensure that the telecoms executive leads a national campaign against bullying.
New members who attended the conference for the first time were enthused by the democratic debates at the broad left (BL) meetings and new members were recruited to the BL.
In this issue
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party women
International socialist news and analysis
Young people fighting back
Socialist Party news and analysis