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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 May 2020

Postal workers' action results in double victory for union

Gary Clark, secretary of Scotland No 2 branch of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), addressed, via Zoom, hundreds of National Shop Steward Network trade union activists on 16 May.

Gary declared a victory for the union following the departure of Royal Mail's notorious anti-union boss, Rico Back.

His exit comes quickly after management's climbdown over its suspension of the 'universal service obligation' (USO), which stopped Saturday postal deliveries.

Double victory for the CWU! photo Paul Mattsson

Double victory for the CWU! photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Postal workers are celebrating seeing the back of Rico Back, capping what has been an amazing few weeks at Royal Mail. And let me make it clear, he was sacked.

Back took over Royal Mail two years ago - drawing 10 million pounds in salary, pension and so on. His brief on joining was to take on and smash the CWU, to facilitate greater returns for the big shareholders who now own the company.

I'll put this development into context. At the end of last year, the CWU balloted (97% majority to strike) after Royal Mail reneged on a national deal over jobs and conditions.

After a politicised court injunction dismissing this ballot, we won a strike reballot in the New Year by a massive 94.5% vote.

Mistakenly, the union leadership called off the strike because of the coronavirus pandemic. This gave Royal Mail bosses the confidence to go on an offensive against the union.

Incidentally, 13 postal workers have died from Covid-19 during this pandemic. During the first week of the lockdown we, along with other CWU branches, had members refuse to work in order to secure safe working conditions.

On International Workers' Memorial Day (28 April), Royal Mail announced without negotiation - and undoubtedly with government approval - that it was going to 'suspend' the USO.

This was against the backdrop of Rico Back saying he would no longer speak to the CWU during the pandemic.

This executive action, in suspending USO, was designed to ridicule postal workers, and was a clear statement this was going to be a fight to the finish with the CWU.

Between this announcement and 1 May we launched a consultation campaign. We also asked all our union reps not to enter in talks with local management over USO, and to adhere to the existing duty structures.

What we anticipated was unofficial walkouts of up to 90,000 postal workers on May Day, in advance of Royal Mail implementing its plan.

Facing this workers' uprising, Royal Mail crumbled, and announced on 1 May the ditching of its plan. We believe that the government, fearing a national postal strike just as Johnson was about to announce a partial return to work, pressured Royal Mail to abandon its plan.

Clearly, Back had completely misjudged the mood among postal workers, and he had no alternative but to go - albeit with a huge severance package.

We have also secured a Covid payment worth 200 for full-time postal workers and pro rata for part-timers. I believe this should have been paid fully to all members and not pro rata on this occasion.

But let's be clear, our original dispute, after Royal Mail reneged on our national deal over jobs, pay and working conditions, is not over.

We have forced the employer back to the negotiating table, and we intend to press home our advantage to ensure a just settlement.

Workers and the public have experienced a deterioration of the postal service under privatisation. The wider trade union movement, representing millions of workers and their families, must actively come behind our demand for the renationalisation of Royal Mail, and booting out profiteers like Back.

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In The Socialist 20 May 2020:


What we think

Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19


Resist school reopening

Staff and parents fight 'back to school' plans


Make transport safe

Transport workers & passengers mustn't pay the price


Socialist Party news and analysis

Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts

Contract tracer speaks out: Tories' plan is outsourced chaos

Crisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

Furlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces

Safe protests against Tory corona chaos continue

Johnson claims workplaces safe but HSE cancels inspections


Workplace news and analysis

Postal workers' action results in double victory for union

Trade unionists organise to fight for workplace safety in big NSSN meeting

Posties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive

Universal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism


Readers' opinion

The Jungle: capitalism's remorseless attack on workers' safety and conditions

Going viral: letters to the editors

Obituary: Rob Crabb


International socialist news and analysis

Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race


 

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Related links:

CWU:

triangleBattle with BT management needed to win real pay rise

trianglePosties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive

trianglePostal workers force Royal Mail back

triangleRoyal Mail dispute: Interview with a CWU branch secretary

triangleCoronavirus workplace news in brief

Postal workers:

trianglePostal workers' anger over profits before health and safety

triangleCollective action becoming necessary to ensure safety and vital deliveries

trianglePostal workers walk out over health, safety and junk mail

trianglePostal workers deliver massive strike vote

Royal Mail:

triangleCorona crisis brings new issues into the postal dispute

trianglePostal workers mobilise to win strike reballot: Vote yes!

triangleAll out to win strike reballot

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