Socialist Worker

Postal workers say: 'We're fighting back - join us'

by Jane Loftus, CWU union president (personal capacity)
Issue No. 2061

Jane Loftus at the Durham miners

Jane Loftus at the Durham miners' gala (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Postal workers are engaged in the most important battle this country has seen for many years. Every worker in Britain will feel the implications of its outcome. We are fighting a vicious management that sees this as a crucial confrontation.

The CWU postal workers' union has shown Royal Mail that we are united in action. We will not accept a pay 'rise' that is well below inflation, or some 40,000 job losses that will ­decimate the service our members provide.

Neither will we tolerate any attacks on our pension scheme – attacks which Dave Ward, the CWU's deputy general secretary, has rightly called a 'stitch-up'.

The two days of strike action that we have taken so far were completely solid. The two weeks of sectional action that we are about to take will make a mockery of Royal Mail's claim that it can run a service without us.

Managers who boasted that they would break the union are being forced to eat humble pie. The CWU's strikes continue to grow in strength and numbers.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes and Dave Ward recently met with John Hutton MP, the secretary of state responsible for postal services. He presented the government's line that this is simply a dispute between workers and their employers.

But Royal Mail bosses Allan Leighton and Adam Crozier are government appointed civil servants, and the regulatory body, PostCom, is maintained by the Labour government.

The government is denying its responsibility to ensure a negotiated settlement with Royal Mail – one that maintains a decent public service without job losses.

We must now ensure that all MPs sign Geraldine Smith's early day motion that demands this outcome.

It is a disgrace that Leighton and Crozier have not been instructed by the government to negotiate.

The CWU will be lobbying MPs for support over the next few weeks. Our union has won massive support from the public. We have leafleted and petitioned in towns and cities across the country.

Regional marches and rallies have raised the profile of the dispute and have enabled other unions to join us in solidarity.

When trade unionists from other industries come to our picket lines, they do more than just lift our morale. They are saying that we are not fighting alone.

There have been growing demands from people who want to donate money to the strike. That's why we are launching an appeal fund this week. I would like to urge every trade unionist to take a collection in our support.

We need to extend solidarity by organising local and workplace support meetings.

But most importantly we need to keep up the political pressure for united action by all public sector workers facing attacks. The opportunity exists for many groups of workers to come together in a combined strike.

That kind of action would create nightmares for both Royal Mail bosses and Gordon Brown's government. Now we need to turn that opportunity into reality. United in action, postal workers can win.

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