POSTAL WORKERS in the CWU union will take to the streets in London on Saturday to say no to privatisation. Postcomm, the postal regulator appointed by government, has proposed that private firms should be allowed to grab almost half the mail in Britain from April.
The regulator now says he might extend the timetable. But he is not going to halt the thrust towards a sell-off. Every CWU member should try to be on Saturday's march. Every branch should fight to the last minute to get as many people there as possible. But all the signs are that it will not be as big as it could have been. It was arranged at great haste, with not enough publicity and without really involving other unions.
This is the union with one of the most militant and best organised workforces in the country But it is not coming out with clear policies to defeat privatisation. Its main document on the latest plans has CWU leader Billy Hayes saying that Postcomm has 'seriously overstepped the mark' and that the government should 'rein in the Postcomm monster'.
The document adds that Postcomm wants to open up 'too much of the market too soon'.
But the union should be for slaying the monster and against all transfer of work out of the public sector. Anything else causes confusion. Who wants to march for the slogan of 'Kill us off more slowly, please'?
Union leaders have also headed off a strike over pay (see page 15) and seem to have no plans for real action against Postcomm or over job cuts. The feeling against privatisation is growing and with it the anger against the CWU giving so much money to New Labour.
In a Times interview this week CWU leader Billy Hayes is reported to think that 'the CWU will face renewed pressure at its annual conference this summer to sever the political link with Labour'. He opposes such moves on the grounds that breaking the link would 'depoliticise the union'.
But CWU activists pressing to democratise the political fund want to use the money for the union to launch hard-hitting political campaigns. The difference is that they want to give some of the fund to socialists who support workers fighting back rather than giving it all to the party which is attacking workers.
Demonstrate – Saturday 16 March
Assemble 10.30am, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park (near Imperial War Museum), London SE1
March to Parliament Square and rally at Westminster Central Hall Called by CWU