A Royal Mail depot, London, credit: JB (uploaded 12/05/2020)
A Royal Mail depot, London, credit: JB (uploaded 12/05/2020)

Battle lines drawn between the CWU and Royal Mail

Postal workers in the Socialist Party

At the Communication Workers Union (CWU) postal conference, a motion was carried instructing the postal executive to prepare for industrial action if Royal Mail management does not offer an above-inflation pay rise without strings.

A pay rise was due at the beginning of April 2022, but Royal Mail refused to put an offer on the table until a week prior to the CWU national conference.

What should be remembered is that before Covid, Royal Mail under Rico Back was hell-bent on breaking the CWU. We saw two massive ‘yes’ votes for action. Action did not take place due to the bosses’ High Court action, and the mistaken decision of the CWU executive to call off action in the pandemic.

But since then the CWU has seen off Rico Back. A new national agreement (Pathway to Change) was accepted by the membership. Postal workers worked through the pandemic providing a public service, and the work completely changed. There was a huge increase in the amount of packets delivered, which meant a massive increase in profits, and at the end of last year £400 million was given to shareholders.

Rico Back was replaced by Simon Thomson as CEO. But he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Royal Mail’s delay in putting an offer on the table set off warning bells for many CWU members. The offer which was put could have come right out of Back’s book of attacking the workforce. We are being offered a wage cut with attacks on terms and conditions.

While we face a cost-of-living crisis we are offered a 2% pay rise, with an extra 1.5% once certain strings are enforced. These include a reduction in sick pay, scrapping a number of allowances, making Sunday working compulsory, later start times, annualised hours and significantly different pay for all new members, creating a two-tier workforce.

The CWU stance is very clear: we have only just agreed changes to the way we work as part of last year’s agreement, and we must have an above-inflation pay rise without any strings this year. Postal workers in the Socialist Party support this stance as a move to take all postal workers to £15 an hour minimum.

There will be a four-week period for negotiations. If no agreement is reached, then an industrial action ballot will take place, which we are starting to prepare for.

Telecoms fightback

Telecoms workers in the Socialist Party 

The Communication Workers Union voted at its telecoms conference to notify BT, EE and Openreach of its intention to hold a ballot for industrial action over this year’s pay claim.

CWU members had no pay rise last year and the company has made a ‘final’ pay offer of a flat rate £1,500 a year for this year. This goes nowhere near compensating workers for the current spiralling cost of living. BT made £5.1 billon profit last year.

It seems a long time ago that telecoms workers were lauded as key workers for keeping the country connected during the pandemic. Like with thousands of other employers, this has been forgotten, and they now expect workers to pay for Covid.

There is clearly an angry mood among CWU members and no doubt that BT can afford an inflation-busting pay claim. One delegate said during the debate that where he was brought up in the east end of Glasgow, bullies got a ‘pasting’. BT are bullies and CWU members should give them the ‘pasting’ they deserve.

Post Office Counters strike

At the same time, our members in Post Office Counters took their first industrial action for many years on 3 May.

After a pay freeze for 2021-22, there is no clear offer for this year. This has angered the 1,500 members up and down the country, who voted for strike action in a huge 97.3% ‘yes’ vote.

 Without doubt it looks like we are heading for a summer of strike action across the Royal Mail and Post Office network.