Socialist Worker

United strike can win for all workers

by Jane Loftus, CWU president (personal capacity)
Issue No. 2059

Every day it becomes clearer that the postal workers’ dispute over pay and in defence of the postal service is crucial for workers across Britain.

CWU union members have responded magnificently to the call for action. Over 95 percent of postal workers struck on 29 June and we were expecting the same during our strike on Thursday and Friday of this week.

Royal Mail management have demonstrated utter arrogance by refusing to enter into any negotiations.

If we win then it will be a boost for everybody. It would breach Gordon Brown’s public sector pay limit and show that there is no need to keep accepting job cuts, worse conditions and privatisation.

If we were to lose – and there is no reason why we should do – it would encourage the government to unleash further attacks on the public sector and to hold down the wages of the people who work in it.

Alistair Darling, the new chancellor, told the Guardian newspaper this week that he was pushing on with Brown’s policy and pay deals in the public sector would have to be kept to 2 percent.

“All pay has to be pegged to performance at work,” he said. “We can’t have inflationary pay deals.”

But our claim is not “inflationary”, and what we’ve been offered is a big pay cut – on top of job cuts and harsh new conditions.

It is no exaggeration to say that our battle is a matter for millions. We are in the frontline – but we know that health workers, teachers, civil service workers, lecturers and local government workers are in a similar position and are looking to us.

Now we need wider support, and we need it at all levels.

I hope that every union leader, every union executive member and every union branch secretary is thinking of the ways they can support us.

And we can build unity from the base. On the picket lines we have been lifted by delegations from other unions. Let’s build on that.

We can beat the government. But we will be much more certain to win, and we will win much more quickly, if other unions continue to work with us and support future action.

I am determined to do everything in my power to bring this about.

The government cannot avoid its direct responsibility for this dispute. Ministers could end it today. They should tell Allan Leighton to stop attacking the workforce and postal services.

As a union we have tried to persuade MPs to get behind us. Now I’d like to go deeper and get into the constituencies, putting pressure on MPs to come in behind us.

This week’s strike will be combined with an extra focus on reaching out to the public. There should be a petition in defence of the postal service – we could get tens of thousands of signatures on it. And we want our members to leaflet so that everyone knows what this dispute is really about.

It is never easy for low paid workers to give up money by going on strike. But we cannot afford not to strike because the issues are too important.

Let’s unite – and we can win together!


You can support the posties

Postal workers were to strike from 7pm on Thursday this week for 24 hours. There will be pickets at mail centres on Thursday evening and throughout Friday, and on Friday morning at delivery offices.

Make sure you:

  • Visit the picket line at your local office. Can you get a delegation from your workplace, union branch, college or area? Can you take a collection?

    lHold a meeting at work (or, if necessary, somewhere off site) with a postal worker speaking at it. It doesn’t have to be a huge meeting to make a difference.

  • Twin your workplace with a local post depot as a focus for solidarity.
  • Hold meetings across the unions in your area to argue for solidarity with the postal workers and coordinated action in the future.
  • Send resolutions to your union leaders calling for solidarity with the postal workers and coordinated action in the future.

    The PCS civil service workers’ union is in the middle of a battle over job cuts, pay and privatisation.

    It has struck twice already this year and is hoping to coordinate its next action with other groups of workers to increase the power of the strike.

    Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, spoke at the Marxism festival last weekend. Mark said, “The PCS has been at the forefront of trade union resistance. If we have to fight on our own we will, but our fights would be so much easier to win if they were taking place with other unions.

    “We want to start meeting and planning these actions.”


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