Post workers in Glasgow and the west of Scotland have voted to end their unofficial action and return to work. More than 700 postal workers attended a two hour mass meeting in Glasgow. They debated the way forward for their dispute as well as putting questions to CWU union officials and voting at the end of the meeting by a proportion of around five to two to return to work. No agreement has been reached with management about the terms of returning to work.
The walkout started on Monday night when management told drivers from St Rollox mail centre in Springburn, Glasgow, that they would have their pay stopped for refusing to cross a picket line at Edinburgh airport. The rest of the mail centre walked out with the drivers and the strike spread to the delivery office at Baird Street (G1-4). The walkouts then spread to offices in Edinburgh, Newcastle and Aberdeen.
Postal workers came to the meeting from offices involved in the unofficial strike and also delivery offices which are on official strike.
Workers at the meeting were rightly proud of the strength of their action and the solidarity they had shown in refusing to cross picket lines and in walking out in support of colleagues.
Most postal workers at the meeting agreed that management had deliberately provoked the unofficial action.
Phil Browne from the CWU executive and several others argued that this meant that the union members should seize the initiative back from the management by returning to work and continuing with the union’s ongoing programme of national strike action.
Area distribution rep Andy Bell told Socialist Worker that they had met with management for four hours on Wednesday to try to reach an agreement to go back to work. He said that management didn’t appear to be serious about negotiating a return to work. “Management were supposed to get back to us yesterday afternoon, but as of 2pm today we still haven’t heard from them. I think they want unofficial action,” he said.
He added that he thought the meeting had made the right decision to go back. “There are a lot of families with mortgages to pay and they are losing a lot of money. And we be will wrongfooting management by going back,” he said.
But some at the meeting felt that it was wrong to go back without winning assurances from management about pay, conditions on return and guarantees of no suspensions. A number of workers from the St Rollox mail centre spoke to Socialist Worker as they were leaving the meeting. One of them said, “What are we going back for? We are no further on than we were when we walked out.”
“We still don’t know what we are going back to when we go back in,” added another. “And we haven’t resolved the issue of picket lines – we are still not going to cross picket lines by other post workers.”
Several people at the meeting raised questions about the functional action. In particular there was anger that it often puts postal workers in a position where management expect them to cross picket lines by other groups of post workers that are striking.
A social care worker from Glasgow, one of 600 council workers on indefinite strike against downgrading, was invited to speak at the meeting. He pointed out that across the public sector workers face attacks on pay and public services. To applause he said that other unions should support the call by the PCS civil servants’ union for united action and strike together.