Socialist Worker

Post dispute: ‘I voted against the deal, so should you,' says Dave Warren

Issue No. 2074

The postal workers’ strike against Royal Mail has been a crucial fight for all those who believe in public services, run by workers with decent pay, pensions and conditions. With over 130,000 members of the postal workers’ CWU union taking part in eight days of action, the strikers were in the forefront of the battle to break Gordon Brown’s public sector pay freeze.

That action has now been suspended while the union consults its members on a possible deal. Dave Warren, a member of the CWU postal executive, was one of five executive members who voted against the deal. Socialist Worker spoke to him about the implications of the proposed settlement.

‘Pensions, flexibility and pay remain the key issues of the dispute, and I have strong reservations about what the deal has to say in these areas.

On pensions, after 2010, you will only be able to retire on full benefits at age 65.

For manual workers who do a physically demanding job this is a big issue.

Changing our pension scheme from one that is based on your final average salary to one that is based on career average earnings will almost certainly have the effect of reducing benefits for many.

On flexibility the union has conceded the employers’ position almost completely. Local reps are going to be forced into agreeing “efficiency deals” with managers – that will mean the same amount of work being done in fewer hours.

The trials of new working practices are to be linked to pay. So if the changes are not implemented, 1.5 percent of the agreed pay rise will not be paid.

In addition there could be long and short days, with workers having to work shorter hours on days when it suits the company, and longer hours when mail volumes are ‘higher – something up to now the union has always opposed.

There will also be 30 minutes of flexible extra work. Managers will be able to extend workers’ shifts when it suits them, and give the time back at an unspecified later date.

The aim of these changes is to get everyone to work harder, and to cut overtime payments.

But what will all these changes mean to those who have family lives, lifts to and from work and a host of other arrangements all built around their shift patterns?

On pay, the popularly mentioned figure of 6.9 percent over 18 months is just not true.

The real figure is 5.4 percent over two years.

That is just 2.66 percent a year – and well below inflation.

And in addition to that, we have lost our ESOS bonus scheme, and many opportunities to earn overtime.

Our members have been magnificent and have stood absolutely solid through this strike. We cannot let them down now.

These are the key reasons why I voted against the deal and recorded my dissent.

There needs to be the broadest possible campaign for a no vote in the coming ballot of CWU members.

I would urge all CWU branches and divisions to get behind the meeting to launch that campaign, which is being organised for this weekend.’

Postal workers, send us your opinion on the deal. » Comment

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