Socialist Worker

CWU forces Royal Mail privatisation back down

Issue No. 2036

The deep crisis of the government – and the strength of postal workers – have forced ministers to rule out issuing normal shares in Royal Mail to staff.

This retreat from what would have been a privatisation move is a rebuff to Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton and a victory for the CWU union.

But 'phantom shares' will be issued. A Royal Mail spokesperson said last weekend, 'We will shortly agree with the government a John Lewis-type scheme which will give our people 20 percent of the economic value of the company and will be worth up to £5,000 per employee.'

This is a recipe for setting worker against worker, eroding basic pay as the key to earnings, and preparing the ground for a later privatisation push.

The CWU must use this year's pay deal to drive up basic pay without gimmicks. The union should also demand that Leighton now be sacked.

Southampton postal worker Steve Race was recently dismissed for his sickness record while he lay in a hospital bed recovering from the stroke he suffered when out on his rounds.

CWU union officials say further investigations have found evidence of members being forced to work over their contracted hours and through meal breaks, often without payment.

One postal worker told the Southern Daily Echo that he knew of new recruits feeling threatened into taking on extra work for fear of being sacked at the end of their probationary periods.

'They come in early to get all their duties done, but don't even have time for meal breaks. The managers won't let them go, but they don't want to pay them the overtime,' said the postal worker.

Just two weeks before his stroke Steve Race complained to his manager at Bitterne delivery office that he was unhappy at being made to work too much over his part-time contract.

The 55-year-old from Totton said he was simply told not to 'rock the boat' because his three-month review was due.

He was hospitalised for four months by the stroke, which has left him virtually paralysed down his left side and unable to walk without a stick and leg splint.

Despite his previously good record, he was dismissed in November for 'poor attendance'.

One postal worker at Exeter mail centre has been sacked and two others given two years suspended dismissal and moved to other offices.

These attacks follow last year's unofficial strike, provoked by moves against a union rep where Royal Mail now admits that they were in the wrong.

The sacked man – who has worked in the post for 20 years without a blemish and is a deputy union rep – has been found guilty of intimidating behaviour. He vehemently denies this charge.

It is very important that the CWU at every level takes up this case. Locally the union branch is moving towards a strike ballot.

Messages of support to [email protected], fax 01392 448 225, phone 01392 448 225

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Article information

Sat 3 Feb 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2036
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