A key argument inside the CWU union centres on the relationship between the union and the Labour Party.
Many activists believe that their strike could have won much more if those who led it were less tied to the government that they were fighting.
Even those at the top of the union who defend the link with Labour are acknowledging the scale of the anger with the government following the strike.
“Many postal workers believe that the government simply took management’s side, firstly by not pressing Royal Mail to negotiate, then by pressing the union to settle too early,” CWU leader Billy Hayes wrote in last week’s Tribune magazine.
That widespread feeling has led thousands of CWU members to withdraw from the union’s political fund.
Many CWU branches are now passing motions that seek to limit funding only to those MPs and candidates who back the union in its struggles and support its policies.
If the political fund is to be saved, it is vital that as many branches as possible submit motions to next year’s conference that call for this kind of democratisation.
Political funding should be used to further the interests of postal workers, rather than as a means of attaching them to the government.
Questions about the future of the Royal Mail pension scheme will be the subject of further consultation and a separate ballot, says the CWU union. But part of the deal with Royal Mail requires the union to sign up to changes that will mean workers lose out.
The necessity of the union’s backing for the changes is clearly stated in TUC leader Brendan Barber’s letter to CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward, attached to the final deal.
It states, “As you know these texts represent the culmination of an immensely detailed and protracted negotiating process and need to be considered as final and open to no further amendment.”
The “texts” include an agreement on pensions that proposes to close the final average scheme to new members, making it a career average earnings scheme. This will reduce the value of benefits to some members and raise the age at which people can retire on full benefits from 60 to 65.