AROUND 150,000 Royal Mail workers are voting on a national strike over pay. At present their basic pay is around £250 a week before tax. Royal Mail bosses want them to accept a pay deal worth just 2 percent. Hard-working people, many working outdoors in all weathers and early in the morning, have been offered just £5 a week.
At the same time top directors of Consignia (the bosses' stupid new name for the Post Office) are getting as much as £4,000 a week. The CWU is demanding 5 percent for this year, a commitment to £300 a week basic pay by October next year, cuts in the working week and other improvements. The voting papers go out to CWU members next Wednesday, and they have to be returned by Tuesday 5 February.
John Keggie, the CWU deputy general secretary, says that '65 percent of our members are still working six days a week, starting at 5.30 in the morning and in some cases even earlier. It is time for Consignia to treat the workforce fairly and decently. 'Take-home pay for most postal workers is around £192 a week, and it is quite frankly disgraceful.'
Keggie is absolutely right that low pay is scandalous. But the union leaders have been very slow to campaign for real action. They are also not linking the pay fight to the wider issues of job cuts, 'flexibility' and privatisation.
It is vital that CWU activists throw themselves into a campaign to win the ballot by a huge margin. That means local propaganda and section meetings. Royal Mail will now use a clause in the present agreement to refer the pay question to arbitration at ACAS.
Activists must prepare to stop any sell-out, and to make sure that issues like speed-ups and privatisation are not forgotten by the union leaders.
POSTAL WORKERS in north and north west London started a strike ballot this week over Consignia's refusal to reinstate Mick and Tom Doherty. Both brothers were successful at proving to employment tribunals that they had been unfairly dismissed.
They were sacked for alleged involvement in football violence, but these allegations were shown to be false. Consignia was also found to have:
Failed to carry out a properly conducted investigation.
Allowed unwarranted speculation to outweigh the evidence.
Started disciplinary proceedings with a predetermined outcome which distorted all that followed.
The tribunals recommended that both brothers should be reinstated in their former jobs, but management has refused to comply. Strikes are now the only way to shift management. This is a very important test case of the union's resolve in backing up members who have been disgracefully treated.