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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 May 2010

Defending the postal service

News that the Royal Mail Business Transformation Agreement was accepted by CWU members by a majority of 2 to 1 has gone down like a lead balloon at my delivery office.

A Coventry postal worker

The main issues which we are concerned about are job cuts, pay cuts for more work, and changes to attendance patterns, with longer Saturday working. We will be slogging round the streets for five hours in summer - I know this is Britain but it still gets hot sometimes - and in the dark during winter.

Once we delivered mail at breakfast time, but with four-day weeks and 10 hour days, we could be delivering at tea time! Once the public were regarded as the customer. Now it is the corporate mailers and downstream access companies who Royal Mail calls its customers.

Since deregulation in 2002 we have been forced into the unaddressed mail market.

We're unhappy about not being properly rewarded for the massive increase in the number of these items we will soon be delivering. We will be losing around 20 per week for delivering twice as many as we do now.

Many of us have family arrangements, like picking kids up from school, which will be disrupted. And although we've always worked Saturdays, we have had the afternoon to spend with family or play and watch sport. This won't be possible in future.

The nature of the job, walking the streets non-stop for 3 hours carrying 16kg bags (currently 6-8 a day) is physically tiring. So the prospect of doing this for five hours with more bags is daunting and will, I'm sure, force people out of the job.

Other parts of the deal we are unhappy about include the one hour reduction in the working week (12 minutes a day), job cuts and the resulting increase in duty sizes and loss of overtime, which many of us rely on to make ends meet.

The deal contains nothing about dealing with the pension deficit, currently standing at 10 billion. This is particularly worrying because New Labour used this deficit to try and force through privatisation by promising to plug the hole in return for handing a 30% stake in Royal Mail to TNT.

Considering who has just moved into 10 Downing Street I don't hold out much hope of a resolution to the pension problem, while privatisation has moved a step closer.

Royal Mail failed to pay into the pension fund for around 13 years during the 1980s and 1990s. It is therefore the government's responsibility as sole shareholder to resolve the pension issue. And where did the pension fund money go during the 'holiday' period?

The deal has been passed by a 2 to 1 majority and change is on the way. How and when will it be implemented? How many job cuts will there be? No one seems to know, not management, not the union. Or if they do they're not saying.

This might sound like the rantings of a luddite postie opposed to change but it's not. Since 2002 my job has changed beyond all recognition. We've taken on around 50% more work due to the 50,000 plus jobs cut in that time.

Maybe this deal will stop the constant attacks on our jobs by management but management are never satisfied. It is only a three year deal. When I put it to a manager last year that we'd made 321 million profit but they were still cutting jobs, I was told it was not enough profit!

We're just ordinary working people who are genuinely worried for our jobs and pensions, the service we provide and of course for Royal Mail remaining as a publicly owned company.

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In The Socialist 19 May 2010:

Action needed to save our services


Workplace news

Vote Roger Bannister in the Unison general secretary election

British Airways: Another intolerable court judgment


Youth fight for jobs

Youth need job creation, not job slaughter


Socialist Party election analysis

Time for the fight of our lives


Socialist Party news and analysis

Building Coventry Socialist Party after the election

Support for socialists Ian Page and Chris Flood

Packed out London meeting looks to fight against cuts

Fast news


International socialist news and analysis

Initiative for a week of European-wide protests

Italy: ControCorrente socialists support CWI

Thailand's government orders bloody crackdown on protesters

Kazakhstan: "Thanks comrades for support"

USA: Putting forward a Socialist Alternative in Seattle


Marxist analysis: history

The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution by Harold Isaacs


Obituary

Peter Hadden - an inspiring life for socialism


Socialist Party workplace news

Communication Workers Union conference: Hands off Royal Mail!

Defending the postal service

Bus workers gear up for action

RMT ballots Tube Lines workers

National Shop Stewards Network conference: International rally planned


 

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Related links:

Royal Mail:

trianglePosties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive

trianglePostal workers' action results in double victory for union

trianglePostal workers force Royal Mail back

triangleRoyal Mail dispute: Interview with a CWU branch secretary

trianglePostal workers' anger over profits before health and safety

Pension:

triangleTory think tank proposes attack on pensions

triangleFrench workers demonstrating in Paris on 16 January; Over 40 days of strike action have taken place against the government's attack on pensions. Photo James Ivens

triangleFrance: Battle over pension rights continues

triangleWest London Socialist Party: French workers - fighting back against Macron

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