leaders of the CWU postal workers' union have postponed a decision over the timing of a national strike ballot until Monday of next week. On that day the union's postal executive will meet and hear reports on talks about pay and job security. Union insiders suggest that a deal on pay is likely.
But nobody expects management to withdraw the threatened mass redundancies or the plans to 'outsource' (privatise) swathes of the Post Office, from vehicle services to cleaners to IT. This should mean that the timetable for a national strike ballot is announced next week.
CWU members must be wary of any deal on pay being linked to accepting job cuts or 'restructuring' in mail centres and on deliveries. It will greatly weaken the argument for a strike over jobs and outsourcing if the union signs up to a pay structure that partially accepts Consignia's agenda. The last few weeks have also demonstrated that the union leadership is desperate to avoid confrontation.
It has been hesitant at every stage and only moved towards a strike because of intense pressure from the rank and file. Activists must redouble their efforts to build links that can keep up the heat on the leaders and act independently of them when necessary.
One job loss that will not be fought is that of Consignia chairman Neville Bain. Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt said last week that Bain's contract will not be renewed and that she has not yet lined up a successor.
Bain was paid a basic £93,870 last year plus pension entitlement of £25,520.
Counters workers in London are enraged about management's plans to bring forward closure plans for the Marble Arch office in Seymour Street. It was to shut on 21 December but this has now changed to 12 December.
CWU branch secretary John Gaby says, 'It is a scandalous and cynical move on the part of Post Office Ltd. It is a transparent attempt to sidestep strike action which, because of trade union laws, we could not schedule until 17 December.'