The contents of Royal Mail’s revised offer to the postal workers’ CWU union were unclear as Socialist Worker went to press. But initial leaks to the media suggest the company has made few moves towards meeting the union’s demands.
The BBC has reported that Royal Mail intends to continue with its attacks on the company pension scheme, that pay will still be limited to below inflation levels, and that its demands for flexibility will lead to “local trials”.
Other issues, including disciplinary measures, mail centre closures and start times, among others, are also in dispute.
If these rumours are correct, the CWU’s postal executive should have no hesitation in throwing out the deal and returning to strike action.
Postal workers have shown huge backbone throughout the campaign of industrial action. There is no reason for the CWU leadership to doubt their commitment to any future action.
This point was underlined by the unofficial strike action taking place in Merseyside and Yorkshire as the union’s postal executive met on Monday and Tuesday.
By testing new flexibility arrangements at a local level the company may hope to pick on areas where the union is weaker, and force through measures which can then be applied nationally.
And what will happen if the workers decide that the local trial is a disaster, while the bosses think it is great?
On pay, a headline figure of 6.9 percent over 18 months has been leaked. This would amount to around 4.5 percent annually.
The pensions element of the offer is currently unclear. Some reports say the pension scheme will be closed to all new entrants – an attack that has unfortunately been accepted in many public sector schemes.
Other reports suggest that the final salary scheme will be converted to one based on career average earnings, and that the retirement age may be raised.
This would be completely unacceptable to most postal workers, and alone should be enough to see workers return to the picket line.
If the union’s executive rejects the deal, everyone must rally round the postal workers. If they accept a poor deal, many postal workers will campaign to throw it out in a ballot.
Thanks to all the postal workers and Socialist Worker readers and supporters who have sent in reports of their local picket lines during the dispute.