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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 January 2014

CWU Royal Mail agreement: Defend our right to strike!

Postal workers demonstrate in London, photo Paul Mattsson

Postal workers demonstrate in London, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

CWU member, Coventry, Postal

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced before Christmas that it has reached a "landmark agreement with Royal Mail that gives workers legal protections on their terms and conditions, increases pay over three years by 9.06%, sets out improved industrial stability and safeguards pensions".

But once the dust settles workers may be in for a bit of a shock. Tucked away under all the gloss we find the brutal reality of what the pay talks really means for Royal Mail workers - a no strike deal.

On the surface the pay increase seems generous, with a 3% pay rise in the first year, although employees will only be 0.1% better off once RPI is taken into consideration.

Royal Mail reported 233 million in half-yearly pre-tax profits recently (or 1.58 billion if you include the one-off windfall resulting from a pension reform), so it can well afford a pay increase for workers.

Other aspects of the proposed deal should be welcomed, such as "no employee will be engaged on a zero-hours contract" and "the employer will not outsource, sell or transfer any part of its business".

Yet the sticking point for CWU members is a clause in the legally binding protections where the agreement can be torn up by Royal Mail if: "there is national-scale industrial action (in the form of a strike or action short of a strike) which has been authorised at national level by the CWU, namely industrial action which either (i) involves employees in the majority of operational workplaces across Royal Mail Group Limited; or (ii) involves employees in an integral part of the operation whereby taking action will have, or is reasonably likely to have, a similarly disruptive effect."

Once you take away the strongest weapon, our ability to withdraw our labour, then you are left with just a talking shop of constant compromise that inevitably favours the employer and erodes pay and conditions for workers.

Royal Mail plan to introduce new ways of working over the coming years, buzz words like "efficiency" and "incentive arrangements" are littered throughout the proposed agreement and once those details finally emerge, workers will be squeezed even tighter to produce more profit for shareholders.

There is a ballot on the deal this month but postal workers need to look beyond the cash incentives and think long and hard before they cast their vote.

For me, I would never approve of a ballot that takes away my basic human right to strike.

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In The Socialist 8 January 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Axe austerity in 2014

Another year of mass struggles beckons

Unite all workers to end bosses' race to the bottom

Truth revealed about Thatcher's war against the miners

Privatisation Act lies behind the A&E crisis

Greedy landlords create housing hell

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Stop cruel care cuts

Birmingham Labour 'consults' over 87 million cuts


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Numsa's bold and historic decision to cut ties with the ANC

Why capitalism mourned Mandela

US: Fight for $15 minimum wage heats up in Seattle


Socialist Party workplace news

CWU Royal Mail agreement: Defend our right to strike!

Hampshire Unison success shows potential for fightback

UPS workers' victory

Every job matters on London Underground

Two PCS strikes on both sides of New Year


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Is UK car building back in Top Gear?

Class injustice at Dickensian court

Time for a new workers' party

Energy Bills: Labour's 'supermarket special offer'


 

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