A Post Office disciplinary hearing last week found that Mark Dolan, treasurer of the CWU union branch in North/North West London, was innocent of the charges against him. A worker at the NDO office made a complaint against Mark after he had overheard a discussion about the World Trade Centre suicide attacks. Mark had said he was against the loss of life in New York, but that it was a result of US policies.
When Mark tried to settle the matter amicably, the same worker then made a further complaint. Top bosses then set out to get Mark as an example to every CWU activist. They moved him from his section, said they believed he was guilty of gross misconduct and ignored the usual procedures. Now management has been forced to back off. Socialist Worker talked to some of Mark's workmates about the victory:
'Everyone was really lifted when we heard that the investigation had found there was no case to answer against Mark. There should never been any charges. He was completely innocent of harassment. But we had no confidence that we'd get a fair hearing. The point of the charges was to get Mark sacked or moved to the arse end of nowhere. Two other CWU members, Mick and Tom Doherty, were both sacked by the Post Office in this area and, although they have won employment tribunals, they have not yet got their jobs back. There was a danger the same would happen with Mark. He could have been sacked and won an employment tribunal. That would have meant a big compensation cheque, but it would still have been a blow to the union. We can't be 100 percent sure precisely what management thinking was, but it was very important that people struck unofficially as soon as Mark was disciplined. There would definitely have been more strikes if they had sacked or moved him. Mark has a good base in his section.
'Management know the score. They knew the union would get a good response from across London for a campaign in support of Mark. So for them the calculation is whether they are up for a London-wide strike with a really dodgy case, with no real evidence against Mark. That sort of pressure splits managers and sometimes makes them think again. Not everyone at NDO is against the war, not by a long way. But during the strike for Mark we argued that it was a case of free speech and that workers should sort out internal disputes, not managers. This was very effective. NDO has seen a number of setbacks over the past year. Managers might have felt they had the upper hand. Now they know different. We all feel stronger, and we want to carry that mood forward into future campaigns.'