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Fight to save Royal Mail
CWU picket line in East London, photo Naomi Byron
Postal workers and our union the CWU are facing a fight. But not just about terms and conditions - it's about the survival of our union and its ability to defend our interests and those of the general public.
Gary Clark, sub area rep, Scotland no 2 branch CWU
The Hooper report into the future of Royal Mail was finally released just before Christmas. But it has clearly been rewritten by the new minister Peter Mandelson. In his time away from the front bench it's clear that he has not lost his view that he is there to represent the interests of big business.
There were some small plusses in the report from the trade union standpoint - mainly that the government will take responsibility for the pension deficit. But it has not been made totally clear how this will work.
The report still attacks our pension scheme. While the union national leadership has been telling members to wait on the Hooper report before doing anything about defending our pensions, it now seems that the final salary scheme has been lost. It is to be replaced with a career average scheme where workers will have to work an extra five years for a worse pension.
The report also contains a blatant attack on the role of the CWU. It states that it is the union's fault that industrial relations are so bad and it's all down to the union that management have not been able to modernise as quickly as they would like.
The report tells the union: "Accept the scale of the transformation required and show that [the union] can tackle the behavioural and internal processes which at present result in confrontation and obstruction." Or in other words, roll over and die!
Then the report goes on to mimic Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier by saying that Royal Mail does not make enough profits and that its workers are 20% over-paid compared to others in the industry.
The most blatant attack is the so called "strategic partnership" or in real words 'privatisation' - where the likes of TNT are waiting in the wings to make a fortune.
It's no coincidence that the report makes clear that the government will fund the pension deficit of around £250 million a year. This would leave Royal Mail making a profit of over £400 million a year. This is being done to prime Royal Mail for a sell-off.
It should be remembered that at last year's CWU conference it was agreed that the: "CWU membership would be balloted on whether they believe the union should fund the Labour Party at the next general election" if the government does not rule out the privatisation of Royal Mail by March 2009.
After all, why give money to a party that is intent on privatising, which will lead to worse conditions for the workers and a worse service for the public?
A fightback must now be organised, including industrial action if necessary, which must involve all of the membership.
In The Socialist 24 February 2009:
No Job Cuts
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news