by Gareth Eales, branch secretary, Northamptonshire Amal CWU
Around 130,000 workers at Royal Mail are to take four days of strike action this week that will cripple the postal service. Our fight will bring to heel an aggressive management that thinks it can smash our union.
Gordon Brown will be egging on our bosses to ram through changes that they say will make us 'more competitive'.
But we will have the support of millions of working people who understand that 'more competitive' means tearing up our living standards so that bosses can make a profit.
The issues behind the postal dispute will be familiar to many – low pay, attacks on pensions, job losses, the defence of a public service and the right to an effective union that can make a difficult job bearable.
In return for a two-year pay deal of 6.7 percent – which works out at a below-inflation 3.3 percent a year – we are to be at the beck and call of our management.
For this we must accept a host of changes that are designed to slash 40,000 jobs and make us subservient. There will be no set working hours, instead we will be instructed to come in early or stay late whenever management want us to.
Royal Mail have also announced that they want to slash our pension scheme, making us pay for the shortfall resulting from its failure to make payments during a 17 year 'contributions holiday'.
We will be expected to work until we are 65 years old before we can retire. This 'total flexibility' is what Brown wants to be the future for all public sector workers. We cannot allow him to get away with it.
Our union, like most others, has given millions of pounds to Labour, but instead of support and solidarity we've been given a kick in the teeth. We should not continue funding the party unless it can prove that it is acting to stop the attacks on post workers and the postal industry.
Our strike can help turn the tide on years of attacks on working people, our public services, our pay and our pensions. Please do everything you can to support us.