Some 150,000 postal workers started a national strike ballot this week over pay. They are fighting management's attempt to hold down pay and to squeeze even more work out of fewer people.
This is a chance to hit back at the bosses and the government ministers who stand behind them. A defeat for workers over pay would make it even more likely that New Labour will press ahead with privatisation and job cuts. The offer is:
2 percent on present basic pay of £250 a week-that means £5 a week extra for most of Britain, £5.56 for outer London and £6.02 for inner London.
There is just 1.7 percent on shift allowance, 1.7 percent on overtime and the end of the option of being paid time and a half and a day off in lieu for working a bank holiday.
This very low pay increase comes with strings. Royal Mail wants a new 'delivery specification' which is basically one delivery between 9am and 1pm.
This would lead to a vast increase in part time staff and a massacre of full time jobs.
Bosses also want big changes in the mail centres (the big sorting offices). This would mean costs pared to the bone and annualised hours for workers. At some times you might do a 33-hour week and then near Christmas you could do 48 hours with no extra pay. The ballot closes on Thursday 7 February.
Most areas of the country are now producing their own propaganda to boost the yes vote.
The briefing from the [CWU] London Divisional Committee is called '66 Good Reasons To Vote Yes For Industrial Action Over Pay'. It points out that 'Royal Mail's pay offer is an insult, which has more strings than a puppet show.' As well as boosting the yes vote, activists need to build their own networks and rank and file organisation to stop any sell-out by the union leaders.
The new issue of Post Worker, the rank and file paper, is out this week with articles on pay, what happened in Northern Ireland, the fight against bullying and more. Orders from 07904 157 779.
THE Sunday Times reported last weekend that up to half of Britain's 17,500 post offices could close. The paper says that the company has already submitted a plan to ministers recommending the immediate closure of 1,000 post offices and another 7,000 over the next five years.
The same plan also suggests that if Consignia (the Post Office) is to survive it must get rid of one in five of the group's 225,000 workers. That would mean 45,000 jobs to go, a far higher figure than the threatened 30,000, which nearly sparked a strike before Christmas.
Dancing off with well over £1 million a year
ALLAN LEIGHTON, former chief executive of Asda supermarkets, has been named the interim chairman of Consignia.
Leighton is already a member of the Consignia board but will head the company until a permanent appointment is made. He will find time to 'streamline' the company while also collecting his salary as chairman of Wilson Connolly, the house builders, and last minute.com, an internet retailer.
Leighton also chairs the BHS high street chain and has directorships or other positions with Scottish Power (recently involved in a bitter dispute with its workers), Sky, Dyson and Leeds United Football Club. His hobbies include morris dancing. Leighton's total package of salaries, shares and other benefits is worth well over £1 million a year. Just the man to explain why postal workers deserve only £250 a week!