‘We need to organise a fightback in defence of our members’
Gary Clark is a candidate for the Communication Workers Union’s (CWU) national executive and postal executive. Gary has been active in the trade union and socialist movement since 1985. For the last 25 years he has been a member of the CWU as a postal worker in Scotland No 2 branch. He started as a local rep in a distribution office and has been the branch secretary of Scotland No 2 branch for the last four years, one of the larger branches in the UK with over 3,000 members.
- What is your platform and your basic core demands in terms of these election campaigns?
I will take the average wage of a postal worker. I believe that to represent postal workers you should live like a postal worker. I’m also campaigning for a £15-an-hour minimum wage. In the last deal we saw a pay rise of 2.1%, but we now need to push for more.
We can’t just sit back. A number of members have to claim benefits. With £15 an hour we can take them out of that to live on a decent living wage and not just get by.
Also we must fight for the demand of a 35-hour week. We’ve seen Royal Mail drag its heels on that one over the years. I am demanding that by next year we move to a 35-hour week.
Another point we should make is the culture in Royal Mail. For many, many years now, postal workers have suffered a bullying culture within Royal Mail under pressure from managers: this has to stop.
We’ve seen a new CEO come saying he’s going to change it. But we’ve seen all that before with numerous CEOs. Now is the time. Unless we see radical changes we have to fight back and defend our members. And that should include a special meeting being called by the CWU nationally. We have to discuss serious action to protect our members from this culture of bullying.
- You are a member of Socialist Party Scotland and a longstanding socialist. What do you think that the role of the CWU should be in terms of building political representation for its members?
Political representation is vital. The Corbyn era is over in Labour. Starmer has come in and we have seen public attacks on the CWU by senior Labour Party figures. Now members are asking the question, why are we still supporting Labour? I’m not saying there’s not good people in the Labour Party. But let’s be clear, the Labour Party is moving back to the days of Blair and no longer represents the interests of ordinary workers and CWU members.
My policy is, we should only support people who support us. That might be people within the Labour Party but also outside.
We should also link up with other trade unionists with a similar viewpoint to us and call a special conference about working-class representation. Because, quite clearly, there’s not a political leader inside Westminster, or inside the Scottish Parliament, that actually supports the interests of the people we represent. Let’s now have an honest and open debate on that within the CWU and take it into the wider trade union movement.
- On the future of Royal Mail, one of your main demands is for the renationalisation of the industry. How important is that?
Royal Mail has recently announced profits of £700 million this year. The vast majority of that is going to be paid out to major shareholders; not the local postie who holds a few shares, but the multinationals. Royal Mail should be renationalised and run under the democratic control of the workers and communities who know the industry inside out. We should take control of it in the interests of the people who we represent and the people who rely on the service.