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Workplace news in brief
Royal Mail fightback
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) missed an opportunity to link a dispute between Royal Mail managers and the privatisation of the company by the 2010 Tory-led government. Around 4,900 managers, members of Unite the Union, voted to go on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions. The managers, having rejected a 1.3% pay offer for the year starting September 2015 in a consultative ballot, then voted by 78% to take strike action and 93% for 'industrial action short of a strike'.
Unite members are also facing continuing threats of compulsory redundancy, with more than 530 redundancies across the organisation already this year. After a period of 'working to rule', a walkout was planned for 24-hours from 31 May to 1 June but this was postponed as the business agreed to further talks.
This is a victory for the managers - as long as the union leadership does not capitulate at this stage. Following the election of a new CWU leadership, this dispute presented an opportunity to raise a class position against cuts to workers conditions, promote the case for renationalisation as well as unite and encourage the whole workforce against the big bosses and capitalist investors.
The sale of the Royal Mail, which saw shares severely under-priced and the taxpayer short-changed was followed by the need for it to cut costs and raise product prices such as stamps for returns to faceless capitalist investors. Workers, including middle and lower management, will continue to bear the brunt of those cuts in their pay, terms and conditions unless a fight back is organised. I encourage all CWU members to attend the NSSN conference where we can discuss such issues with other unions.
Carl Harper, CWU activist
Metsa Wood walkout
About 50 GMB members from Metsa Wood, which produces timber products for B&Q, were on strike on 26 May, with a picket in place at the depot in Ditton Road, Widnes. George Patterson, GMB full time officer, explained to me that the strike was in protest at the company offering a meagre 0.8% pay rise despite making a £390 million profit. One of the workers told me that it used to be a great place to work but that over the last five or six years it has all been totally changed with profits for the shareholders being put way ahead of treating staff properly.
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