Our strikes got Royal Mail worried. That’s the only reason they’ve agreed to talks. How many times did Allan Leighton and Adam Crozier – bolstered by Gordon Brown – parrot the line that “the offer is the offer”?
We were told that we could “strike until Christmas”, but nothing would change. But, after four days of strikes by everybody, it suddenly seems that the offer might no longer be the only offer.
Strikes get results, that is the first lesson. And the second one is that Brown is not as all-powerful as he is presented in the media.
Brown, Leighton and Crozier thought we would buckle. Well they have now had to think again.
It is amazing that although we have to give seven days’ notice of a strike, it’s perfectly OK to call one off with just three hours’ notice.
And what has been talked about so far falls far short of any sort of decent settlement.
The cessation of Sunday collections, now on the table, is totally unagreed and would have a significant impact on all future operations in mail centre structures as well as deliveries.
The £23 million that has been “discovered” for us comes in part from savings generated by the proposed closure of a number of mail centres – closures that we have to oppose.
When you break down the £23 million across the workforce it’s just £2.68 a week each – and that’s before tax.
The concession on keeping allowances when start times change is a retreat on the part of the bosses. But it also creates a two tier workforce, with people doing the same job having very different pay.
The fundamental fact is that we got Brown and the bosses in trouble.
Brown hasn’t suddenly decided he likes the CWU and postal workers. We have extracted more from him by our strikes and our campaigning.
We ought to keep agitating to suspend union donations to the Labour Party, which is attacking us.
We could have won a great deal more if we had not called off the strikes.
And management should withdraw all the disciplinary charges and attacks on conditions that have been launched since the strike began.
Forcing talks shows our power. But we need to keep pushing and organising to fight for a pay rise that at least matches inflation, withdrawal of the “business plan”, and for other gains.
We have got where we are by the official strikes, the unofficial action and by the pressure created by plans for joint action with other unions.
We need meetings in every office about this dispute. We shouldn’t just wait for the result of negotiations – we need to make our views clear to management. We need meetings of area reps to discuss the dispute.
The “do the job properly” campaign should be kept up and we need to get our colleagues on disciplinaries back in work with the charges against them dropped.
If Royal Mail acts in negotiations as they have acted at every other point in this dispute, we will have to be prepared to go back on strike. And we will need to escalate to win.