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From: The Socialist issue 1064, 12 November 2019: Strike, protest, vote - Kick the Tories out

Search site for keywords: Postal workers - Workers - Union - CWU - Royal Mail - Trade union

Postal workers' union determined to resist bosses' attacks

CWU official picket armband, photo Paul Mattsson

CWU official picket armband, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Gary Clark, Communications Workers Union (CWU) Scotland No.2 branch secretary (personal capacity) and Socialist Party Scotland

Postal workers are involved in the fight of our lives, and our members know it. A massive 97.1% vote for strike action on a huge turnout that demolished the anti-union ballot thresholds tells us all we need to know about the mood of anger and determination among CWU members.

And the reason is clear. Rico Back and the new team of Royal Mail executives want to break up the business. They want to rip Royal Mail to shreds for the benefit of the hedge funds, big business and capitalism.

And they are prepared to use the courts to try and prevent us from fighting back.

Rico Back has come into the role of CEO with a golden hello of 6 million and a package of around 2.7 million a year. His role is to break the strength of the CWU.

This is a result of the sell-off of Royal Mail and the push towards maximum profit and the rundown of the service.

We're due a shorter working week, a one-hour reduction from the 2017 'four pillars' agreement, but management has backtracked. Royal Mail bosses are also walking away from national agreements.

They want to do away with 40,000 jobs, which amount to a third of the workforce. Bullying of our members by management is rife across the industry.

This is a fight to defend the public service too. If we lose this fight the public service is gone. The biggest obstacle to their plans is the CWU and our determination to resist.

We're planning strike action in the run-up to Christmas. Rico Back is preparing as well. Royal Mail are starting to employ agency staff on a full-time basis, cutting across all agreements and stopping our members getting overtime.

Reportedly, 6,000 extra workers are being recruited for warehouses and as drivers. A large part of this will be an attempt to build an army to undermine the strike.

Injunction

Royal Mail has taken us to the High Court, claiming an irregularity in how the ballot was conducted. This refers to the widely reported fact that CWU reps encouraged members to vote and return the ballot papers en masse. But management say this is breaking the law.

This is a very serious issue for the whole trade union movement as it clearly shows that the Trade Union Act is going to be used to block all action by workers to defend their terms and conditions.

The CWU should call an emergency meeting of all lay officials across the union to discuss the views of the membership, including action to challenge the law by calling industrial action, which would be against any court ruling, and making a call to all of the labour movement to support us.

This is very likely to be a bitter dispute. We will need the support of the whole trade union movement.

The CWU should call an emergency national demonstration in the next two weeks, and the Trade Union Congress, other unions, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership, should back it. The demands of the demo should be - 'Defend trade union rights and the right to strike, support the CWU and renationalise Royal Mail'.

In whose interests is Royal Mail to be run? Is it for big business and the vultures of capitalism or about providing a public service?

The general election on 12 December could once again illustrate how important postal workers are. Political parties have election material delivered by CWU members. Postal votes are increasingly important.

It's vital that Jeremy Corbyn uses his pledge to renationalise Royal Mail as a centrepiece of the election campaign. Corbyn's backing for our action is also very important.

Socialist Party Scotland believes that the best way to properly reward the workforce and to improve the public service is by renationalising Royal Mail under democratic workers' control.

Our members are fighting to defend a public service from big business vultures. It's the public's fight too. Support the union, demand public ownership of the industry.

Victory to the CWU!

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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.
  • 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.
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