Socialist Worker

CWU conference: deep anger in post over pay and attacks

The result of a strike ballot among 150,000 postal workers was due on Thursday. John Farnan from the CWU union executive spoke to Socialist Worker about the mood

Issue No. 2054

The central issue which has made people vote for strikes is the pay cut. We’ve been offered 2.5 percent at a time when inflation is nearly twice that. The basic pay for a postal worker is £323 a week – for a hard job.

We need better pay, not more pay cuts. But there are many other issues involved.

If you asked everyone why they had voted for a strike then you would get a hundred different answers.

It’s about the attempt to screw more out of fewer people. It’s about the destruction of a public service. It’s about bullying from management.

It’s about 2,500 Post Office closures, privatisation, 40,000 job losses, attacks on pensions and mail centre closures.

If there’s one phrase that sums it up, it’s the quote from chief executive Adam Crozier, who gets £1 million a year, that postal workers are 25 percent overpaid and 40 percent underworked.

There’s a myth going round that a post strike can no longer be effective.

But, although private firms have penetrated into collecting and sorting mail, over 99.5 percent of it is still delivered by Royal Mail workers.

Effective

The private firms don’t have the national infrastructure, and therefore we can be very effective if we strike.

And it will hit big firms hard. A dozen or so utilities, banks and retailers are responsible for a huge swathe of mail traffic. They squeal when we stop work.

This can be a very popular strike, because we are defending a public service. Other public sector workers are also facing wage curbs and job cuts. We should seek to work closely with them and to strike together if possible.

We need both the power of a strike and political presssure on the government. The government is still our employer and we should not let it slide off the hook.

It is Gordon Brown’s responsibility to decide what happens now. It is Labour which is allowing Royal Mail bosses to launch the attacks on us.

Speaking personally, I’m one of those who thinks we should break from Labour as a union.

If there’s a good strike vote, then the union will go back to Royal Mail to see if they will offer a decent rise.

Let’s hope they will. But they have been hard-faced so far.

We need to turn the vote into action and to win the public on the basis that we’re heading up a fight and defending the services they use every day.

Punitive

Royal Mail now has a policy of imposing punitive sanctions whenever there’s a post strike – official or unofficial. They may try it this time, but we should stand up to them.

I was privileged to work with the Manvers post strikers in South Yorkshire.

There, over a period of time, there were more than 20 strike days. It was 100 percent solid and got a good deal.

At the end management had to back off from sanctions because the workforce wouldn’t accept them.

We have to be strong nationally over this.

I hope everyone will back us, and that postal workers can speak at civil service workers’ meetings, NHS workers’ meetings, local government workers’ meetings and so on.

There should be joint rallies and protests. A victory for us would be a boost for everyone, and for public services not profit. Let’s win together.


Royal Mail has awarded its chief executive hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses in a move that will increase workers’ anger over pay.

Adam Crozier is understood to have received a bonus of up to £370,000 and further benefits, taking his total package to more than £1 million.

Details of Crozier’s pay will be revealed in Royal Mail’s accounts and financial results for the past financial year.

John Farnan speaks in a personal capacity.

Public sector pay rally
Fight the government’s pay freeze
Thursday 14 June, 6.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London. Speakers invited: Steve Sinnott (NUT general secretary ) and Mark Serwotka (PCS general secretary)


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