Around 150,000 postal workers were waiting this week to find out whether they would start ballots for a national strike for better pay and against job losses linked to privatisation.
The CWU union's postal executive was meeting on Tuesday as Socialist Worker went to press. It was considering a pay offer which was rumoured to be less than 2 percent with strings!
At the same time post bosses were cynically proposing to offer talks on job security to put legal problems in the way of a ballot over these issues. A national strike ballot is needed now-and union leaders must not back off. If a strike does happen it will directly challenge plans from Consignia (the bosses' stupid name for the Post Office) to 'outsource' vast parts of the Post Office including vehicle services, cleaning and information technology. Management also want up to 30,000 job cuts to boost profits.
Nobody is talking about postal workers as a whole doing less work. So the job cuts will mean a huge increase in the pressure to work harder and faster. Union leaders have been slow to start the battle in defence of keeping private firms out of the postal business. But they know the rank and file have had enough of management attacks.
A series of unofficial strikes, almost all of them successful, have demonstrated the mood to resist. A strike would not just be an industrial battle. Consignia bosses reflect government policy of relying on the private sector and driving workers harder and harder.
The Department for Trade and Industry has already said that the outsourcing issue, and job security are 'up to the company'. If postal workers strike it will be a major political issue which can give a focus to workers everywhere.
Every postal worker must push their union branch and activists to:
- Demand a national strike ballot now.
- Organise public campaigning to explain the issues.
- Make links with other rank and file activists to pressure the union leaders and make sure they do not sell postal workers short.
- Push the union to call an activists' meeting.
Counter Staff in west London post offices are to strike on Friday 21 December in protest at office closures. The staff, employed by Post Office Ltd, work in 13 west London offices, and the action comes on one of the busiest days of the year in the pre-Christmas period. The strike is an initial response to management announcing the closure of two branch offices.
Next year is likely to see large scale office closures and compulsory redundancies threatened across the Post Office. The CWU union plans to build on action in the run up to Christmas with coordinated action across the Greater London area in the new year.