Around 150,000 post workers are voting on strikes over pay. The ballot closes on Thursday of next week. Workers have shown support for strikes at mass meetings during the last week. That feeling now needs to be turned into a big vote for action.
In Glasgow around 200 people came to a meeting, and the feeling was solidly for a strike. 'We're fed up with being treated like dirt and paid as much in a week as one of the people at the top spends on a fancy lunch,' a CWU union member told Socialist Worker.
It was the same in Oxford, where workers were unanimous for a strike. Royal Mail bosses are offering a package worth just 1.9 percent on top of basic pay which, for most people, is only £250 a week before tax. That very low money is for working six days a week, often starting at 5.30am or earlier, and in all weathers. Consignia (the bosses' stupid name for the overall Post Office business) wants to make £1.2 billion cuts in the next 18 months. That means jobs going and harder work.
But in addition to that, management want all the money they claw back to go into extra profits for them, not pay for workers. Postal workers are demanding some return for their hard work. An Oxfordshire CWU member told Socialist Worker, 'Pay is now a more urgent issue than ever. In some areas people just about get by through working loads of overtime. But the overtime is going. At present we are limited to 'only' 70 hours a week. Within 18 months we will be covered by the European directive which restricts us to 48 hours. Nobody wants to work excessive hours. But we need a big increase in basic pay to make up for the loss of earning potential through overtime. Every postal worker needs a big rise, and we need a massive yes vote to shake the bosses and push our union leaders into action.'
As well as the basic pay issue, Royal Mail also wants to reorganise deliveries and change working arrangements in the big mail centres. Both of these moves threaten jobs and conditions. A lot is at stake in this dispute. If Consignia get their way now they will press ahead with more attacks on conditions and privatisation. A stand now over pay can be crucial in developing resistance.
The new issue of Post Worker, the rank and file paper, is out now. There are articles on the pay ballot, recent disputes, Northern Ireland, the fight against bullying at work, and more. For orders phone 07904 157 779.