Myself and thousands of other postal workers across Britain this week received ballot papers from our CWU union asking us if we are willing to accept a leadership-backed deal to end our long running dispute.
But the deal that is being recommended is a poor one. We should send back our papers with a big cross in the no column – and ask all our colleagues to do the same.
On the key issues of flexible working, pay and pensions our negotiators have handed management most of what it wanted, extracting only limited concessions for the union.
Under the deal some flexible working is to be brought in by agreement with the union at a local level.
Other changes, including “longs and shorts”, where we might only work seven hours on a Tuesday but up to nine hours on a Friday, and a system of 30 minutes flexible time that can be added or subtracted from our shifts, will be given national approval.
The introduction of annualised hours will drastically alter the way our duties are structured. Monthly pay is to be introduced in April 2008, along with serious cuts in our pension rights.
We are told that we should trust our managers to work together with the union to make arrangements that meet everyone’s needs.
But in the West of Scotland we’ve had a taste of that approach, and it proves that we cannot have confidence in management to keep its side of the bargain.
A number of delivery office managers agreed with union reps to start Saturday shifts at 5am rather than 6am, so that workers could finish at about 12 noon – giving people a chance to spend part of Saturday doing something more interesting than work.
Yet area managers, who are determined that the union should not be able to claim any influence over start times, overturned that decision.
The lesson is clear – we must be flexible when management demand it, but if we want some in return, then forget it. Last week reps at Glasgow Amal branch voted to recommend that our members reject the deal.
It is brilliant that we were so strong in rejecting it but it is vital that we now take that argument to the shopfloor and explain the implications of the deal to the members.
In most units around 30 percent of members think that the deal is poor, but can see no alternative but to accept it.
But the other 70 percent think that the deal is poor and that we should go back to strike action – and before Christmas.
Sensing the mood, management have now removed facility time from reps, and are determined to hamper the “no” campaign.
But this will not deter us. We have taken leaflets produced by other branches, reproduced them and pasted them up everywhere we can.
The rank and file Post Worker group’s poster against the deal is on the noticeboards, and now we are fighting for a “no” vote office by office.
It was stated at a recent CWU national briefing that the deal was “the best that could be negotiated by our most senior reps”.
Well it is clear that their best is not good enough and maybe they should move aside and let the next generation have a go.
Across Britain about a third of branches have said no. We are telling our members that to get a deal we can be proud of we may have to strike again.
Our only power lies in collective action. We only have existing conditions of service because previous generations of posties fought to secure them.
We owe it to the next generation not to give them up. Vote NO and do the job properly.
CWU branches saying no
Branches that have rejected the deal include:
- Bournemouth & Dorset
- Bristol & District Amal
- Eastern No 6
- Essex Amal
- Glasgow Amal
- Gwent Amal
- Kent Invicta
- Merseyside Amal
- Newcastle Amal
- North Wales & the Marches
- Northern Home Counties
- Northern/North West London
- Northern Ireland East
- Northern Ireland No1
- Northern Ireland West
- Northwest Central
- Romford Amal
- Scotland No 2
- SE Wales Amal
- Sheffield Amal
- South Central No 1 Oxford
- South East No 5
- South East Thames
- South West No 7
- Southdowns Amal
- Watford No 1
- Western Counties