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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 October 2007

Fighting Royal Mail management's attacks

Royal Mail management have already shown how aggressively they are likely to try to implement any deal struck with the union at national level. These reports show that the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) will have to build on the success of the strikes so far and be very well-organised locally in order to fend off management attacks.

RETURNING TO work at 5.15am after their second 48-hour strike, postal workers at Plaistow delivery office in east London were told by management that their start time was now 6am. In response to this unilateral imposition of new working rosters, the 30 or so delivery workers walked out. Mickey, John and Patrick spoke to Dave Carr for the socialist.

"We came back after our second strike expecting to start to clear the backlog of post and instead we were confronted with new start times. It's a deliberate provocation.

"It's all about bringing in flexible working. We're one of the test areas for the new working arrangements. It's now a case of having no set working pattern, no routine but instead 'you'll work as and when we need you to'.

"It also means that the early start payments (£6 a week) have been scrapped. Taken over a year this will save Royal Mail a lot of money. It'll also mean that the public will get their letters delivered later. As a matter of fact two years ago there should've been a work review because of the increase in the number of new houses in the area. This was never carried out."

The pickets were also angered by the rumour that they would be sacked and then re-employed on these new contracts.

Another bone of contention is the portrayal by the national media that the current 'job and finish' working arrangements mean that postal workers have an easy time.

"None of us here takes a break, we're hard working. We start before 6am and take our tea and coffee on the go. We don't finish 'two hours early'. If Royal Mail had a clocking-in system then they would see how hard we work… It's all goodwill on our part but management want to take more and more concessions from us."

"One of us was accused by management as 'working too slowly' but they failed to prove it. In fact they withdrew the 'walks test' because it would've shown we do more work than we're contracted to do."

The pickets were well aware that standing behind Crozier and Royal Mail in attacking working conditions was prime minister Gordon Brown.

"The last thing we want is for Gordon Brown to step in and tell us 'go back to work'. Or that we've got to make Royal Mail 'more competitive'. How can we compete with the likes of TNT when it's us who are delivering their work! Even the TNT boss said his company wasn't interested in doing deliveries.

"No-one else has the same infrastructure as Royal Mail. And unlike BT or gas our infrastructure isn't telephone lines or gas pipes but us!"

At that point the CWU rep reported that depots in north and south east London had also walked out. A small cheer went up on the picket line.

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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.

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In The Socialist 18 October 2007:

National Health Service Cutbacks and privatisation kill

National NHS demo

The vultures are circling ever closer

10,000 march in Sussex

Swansea fights the cuts

Rally for Socialism


Postal dispute

Exposing Royal Mail's lies

Postal workers waiting to assess Royal Mail deal

Fighting Royal Mail management's attacks

Solid unofficial action in East London

National Shop Stewards' Network meetings

Daylight robbery in Scotland!

Save Bolsover Post Offices


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Brown's blues


International Appeal

Students on trumped-up charges


Socialist Students

Scrap fees for all students


National Shop Stewards Network

Young workers and students need to get involved

"You've got to stick together"

Stop the placement rip-off now!


Campaign for a New Workers Party

Tony Benn evades the issue


Trade Union Freedom Bill

Trade Union Freedom Bill: Banishing Thatcher's anti-union legacy?

Working longer hours for less pay


Socialist Party women

ITV2 - making a good deal out of women's bodies


International socialist news and analysis

Workers' struggle and political instability sends Polish government into meltdown

Australia: Liberals v Labour - no choice for working people in election


Socialist Party news and analysis

Children's homes at risk of buy-outs


 

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Related links:

Postal dispute:

triangleCorona crisis brings new issues into the postal dispute

CWU:

triangleOppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed

triangleBattle with BT management needed to win real pay rise

trianglePosties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive

trianglePostal workers' action results in double victory for union

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