A “battlebus” organised by the CWU London division toured picket lines across the capital.
It carved a class line across the city as many workers and students waved greetings, gave a thumbs up or sounded their horns in support. Only a few sour-faced richer types looked unhappy.
As we swept down the exclusive Park Lane the liveried doorkeeper at the Dorchester Hotel had a quick look round to see if anyone was watching – and then gave us a big thumbs up.
First stop was N1 in Islington where jubilant pickets reported that support for the strike was even better than last time.
CWU rep Dave said, “Nothing is moving and it’s just a few managers struggling with their maps and trying to do registered letters.”
Rounding-up the situation across the area, Mark announced, “Out of 22 offices, only one cluster reserve worker and four non-members have gone in. All CWU members are on strike.”
Next stop was Paddington in West London where a lively picket of over 25 workers gave the news that backing was stronger than on the 29 June strike. “It’s really strong,” said Ken, “People are not prepared to see the service destroyed and their wages cut.”
At Nine Elms in South London Kate Hoey MP joined pickets who again were convinced they had won better backing than the last strike. Gary said, “We have win the argument that although it’s hard to strike that it will be much, much harder if the plans for job cuts and worse conditions go through.”
At Waterloo station the battlebus crew gave out hundreds of leaflets to rail passengers – and were joined by dozens of postal workers from other offices in Surrey who then came on to the bus, making it a riot of flags, slogans and placards which swept through the streets to widespread applause.
We arrived at the giant Mount Pleasant office to find 20 pickets, many of whom cheerfully came on to the bus, adding to the mood of defiant happiness.
The final stop on the tour was the demonstration at the Old Street headquarters of Royal Mail.
Here around 500 postal workers angrily protested at their managers and demanded that they lift the attacks and start negotiations.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes won applause when he said, “The future of the postal service is at stake. We demand that management treat the workforce with dignity and respect. Adam Crozier collects £1.4 million a year, why can’t postal workers have first class pay and conditions?
There were even louder cheers when deputy general secretary Dave Ward said there is “a heavy responsibility on the people who really run the post office – the government.
“It’s just not acceptable that we have a bloody Labour government and doing nothing while these two get away with wrecking our industry.”
The demonstration and the battle bus were excellent initiatives, and could be copied elsewhere.
From across London there were four key messages from the picket lines:
- We’re up for the fight and we’re not going away.
- We’re ready to escalate, and escalation will get support so long as it’s clear we are hitting management hard.
- Unity with other unions needs to be built fast. Joint strikes and a joint protest would be brilliant.
- Labour ministers are siding with the enemy. And for many this is the last straw after along period of disillusion with Labour. They don’t see why the union continues to pour all its political party funding into the coffers of those who attack the CWU.