Socialist Worker

Union activists discuss response to Royal Mail offer

Issue No. 2074

Workers at Copperas Hill mail centre in Liverpool returned from unofficial strike action to find that managers have stored some of the backlog of mail in the workers’ lounge (Pic: http://royalmailchat.co.uk<span class=

Workers at Copperas Hill mail centre in Liverpool returned from unofficial strike action to find that managers have stored some of the backlog of mail in the workers’ lounge (Pic: Solid

“My office, like many others, got more solidly behind the strike as it went on,” said a rep from Oxford.

“There is no way I can take this deal around my members. People will be outraged.”

A rep from east London echoed him. She said, “My mail centre is the same.

“We started the strike with 97 percent of our members out on strike. During the last day of action we had 100 percent.

“Now not only do we have a shoddy national deal, but our local dispute over the change to start times has also been pulled. I am shocked at how out of touch with the members our leaders are.”

A rep from Cambridge pointed to the question of pay. “In reality our yearly increase is going to be 2.66 percent,” he said.

“But our union’s policy, decided by a vote at our annual conference, was to seek a pay rise above inflation and a 35 hour week.

“What happened to those demands?

“Do the conference decisions count for nothing?”

A rep from a central London mail centre felt that opposition to the deal was premature.

“On pensions, I agree that the raising of the retirement age to 65 is something we should all be against,” he said.

“But on pay and flexibility I’m more open to the case from the national negotiators.

Flexibility

“Everybody knows that pay is not the key issue, and most flexibility issues are being moved to working parties. That does not worry me.”

That suggestion drew harsh criticism from most others.

“I’m in an area where the union is quite weak,” said the rep from Cambridge.

“When Royal Mail do local trials they might well get away with making changes on my patch.

“But I’m part of a national union and I expect that union to use its national strength to defend the weaker areas.”

He was echoed by another rep from a central London mail centre, who said, “I’ve every confidence in the area reps in my area to fight the attacks at a local level.

“But if Royal Mail win what they want elsewhere, they will declare those areas to be following best practice, and that will come back to threaten all of us.”

The meeting went on to discuss how to win the forthcoming ballot of the union’s membership to reject the deal. It voted to call a special meeting open to all CWU postal members in London this weekend.

“We don’t have much time,” said a CWU member from Bristol.

“We need to urgently contact every executive member who registered their opposition to the deal, and every branch and union rep we have contacts with.

“We must encourage them to sponsor the meeting.”

All those present agreed that involving the rank and file of the union in the fight to reject the deal would be crucial.

“People in my area are saying they have lost faith in the union nationally, though not locally, and that hurts,” said the rep from east London.

“We have to use that anger to turn this around.”

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