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Post Office privatisation: National action needed to defend jobs
R0YAL MAIL claim to have gone from a crisis with record losses to a miracle turnaround almost overnight. The opening up of the markets, along with 'downstream access' (where other postal operators can put mail in the postal system for it to be delivered by Royal Mail for a fraction of the cost), has seen Royal Mail go on the offensive against postal workers. And from 1 January other postal operators can collect, sort and deliver any mail.
Gary Clark, Vice Chair, Scotland No2. Branch, Communication Workers' Union (CWU)
Royal Mail aim to cut £370 million by this April, with no regard to quality of service or postal workers' workloads. This can only be achieved by job losses, reducing full-time jobs to part-time hours, closing mail and distribution centres and attacking delivery workers.
Recently they have spent a huge amount of time studying the postal service in Holland, where there is a low-paid, part-time casual workforce.
Their longer-term view is even more frightening, with the aim of 40,000 job losses. And they are increasing our pension contributions to fund the pension deficit caused by the Royal Mail pension holiday, with the possibility of raising the retirement age from 60 to 65.
Their idea of 'total flexibility through self-motivated teams' seems to be only the start. They have other plans, such as moving from weekly to monthly pay and restructuring the pay package with 'winners' and 'losers'. There will be more automation, which will mean more job losses.
Scottish management have started the offensive by attempting to remove all nightshift workers from Dundee and Edinburgh and not filling vacant full-time duties but recruiting them at part-time hours. This has resulted in a ballot result of 5:1 in favour of industrial action in Dundee.
In Edinburgh we have seen management attempt to enforce changes in the Dell Delivery Office. This was first met with a ballot for industrial action in the Dell office, soon followed with the announcement that the Scotland No 2 branch were going to ballot the whole area for industrial action. They were not prepared to allow Royal Mail pick off their members one by one.
This forced management back round the table and a partial climbdown. It's clear this was only achieved through the threat of industrial action in the office concerned and the fact the whole branch was prepared to take strike action in defence of our terms and conditions. It's clear this is only an uneasy truce. Royal Mail will attack again. The likely industrial unrest that lies ahead will decide what type of industry we work in.
In The Socialist 2 February 2006: