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Posted on 2 April 2020 at 15:35 GMT

Solidarity to the CWU postal workers' dispute, at a NSSN meeting, February 2020

Solidarity to the CWU postal workers' dispute, at a NSSN meeting, February 2020   (Click to enlarge)

Royal Mail: Collective action becoming necessary to ensure safety and vital deliveries

A statement by Socialist Party members in the CWU (Royal Mail)

The escalating Covid-19 crisis has brought CWU members in Royal Mail to the point of no return. Nationally the CWU has put forward a clear plan to ensure the safety of our membership, which in turn makes our families and the wider public safe and potentially saves lives.

We view Royal Mail as clearly putting profit and the shareholder above the safety of postal workers and the wider public and using Covid-19 as a cost saving opportunity.

At yesterday's meeting between the CWU and senior Royal Mail management, Rico Back, the CEO, failed to attend, showing complete contempt for the union and all employees of Royal Mail.

The CWU requested that for the period of the coronavirus crisis deliveries would move from six days a week to three days. This is to ensure that the two metre social distancing measures can be done.

Royal Mail rejected this - despite large numbers of postal workers being either off sick, self-isolating or in the 'at risk' group and being shielded for 12 weeks.

This has put even more pressure on the members who are at work, often in tight cramped offices where the two metre social distancing rule is almost impossible to do.

The health of our members, their families and the wider community is being put at risk. Royal Mail went on to claim that you can work safely without full PPE and washing your hands is sufficient.

CWU representatives also said the sickness absence approach needs to be changed. We have members with serious health conditions who have used up their sick leave and are now back at work. Yet they are also in the 'at risk' group and should be off work for 12 weeks - but would not get paid.

This is forcing members to either stay at home unable to cope or go to work and risk their health. It's the same position for members who have dependents at home in the 'at risk' group who have been told to self-isolate with them.

Our reps also called for the suspension of D2D (advertising material). The management response was that this is not commercially viable, so putting profit before lives.

Rico Back has stated that he does not wish to meet the CWU again during this pandemic, showing utter contempt towards the CWU and our members.

The position which the CWU has taken up to now has been to tell the members, as individuals or as a workplace, that they could refuse to work on health and safety grounds. But clearly, the CWU now needs to increase the pressure on Royal Mail. Passing it down to the individual member to decide is not enough.

There needs to be a clear call from the national leadership at the national postal executive meeting on Friday to take that pressure off the individual and for us to act as a collective to ensure the protection of our membership, their families and the wider public.

We would call on the CWU and the membership to take control of every unit in the country to prevent Royal Mail actions from putting lives at risk and for our reps and officials to decide what is the priority to be delivered and to be done in a safe manner with full PPE, as many members wish.

We must make sure we are delivering medical kits and medications to places where they are required during this period.

If Royal Mail then attacks any reps or individuals we must call on the whole membership to come to the defence of any member by a national call to withdraw our labour - and then call for support from the whole trade union movement.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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