Socialist Worker

Postal service: 'Let’s fight the pensions pickpockets'

by Gareth Eales, deputy branch secretary, CWU Northamptonshire Amal branch
Issue No. 2091

The fight is on to defend postal workers’ pensions. Socialist Worker last week reported that Royal Mail has announced its intention to close our final salary pension scheme – despite the company organising a “consultation period” in which 99 percent of employees opposed its plans.

It is clear that Royal Mail bosses are determined to press ahead regardless, with no agreement from our CWU union or the workforce.

What is the point of a consultation period if the views of those affected are not taken into account?

Pensions are deferred wages and therefore our money. What Royal Mail intend to do is tantamount to theft and we cannot let them get away with it.

Cutting pensions might be OK for fat cats like Royal Mail bosses Allan Leighton and Adam Crozier – they won’t be required to work till they are 65, and they will never be short of a few quid either. But they expect our members to work till they drop.

It was Royal Mail that took a 17-year pensions contributions holiday – and now the company wants to pick our members’ pockets to make up the deficit.

The CWU’s executive is now conducting a consultative ballot in Royal Mail workplaces over whether to accept the proposed changes to our pensions – with a recommendation to reject them.

We all want harmony after last year’s dispute. But if we have to lock horns with the employer again, we must all answer the call.

I never thought I’d wish for this, but we need to get Royal Mail managers on board in this fight too – after all it’s their pension scheme too.

Although expecting some of those snakes to have a backbone is somewhat wishful thinking.

It is vital that we bring the Royal Mail managers’ CMA union into this fight, and utilise the apparent fruitful relationship between our general secretary, Billy Hayes, and the joint general secretaries of the Unite union of which the CMA is part.

The government is Royal Mail’s sole shareholder and it must be forced to intervene on this issue. It is deplorable that Gordon Brown can plough billions into Northern Rock, while a 300-year old institution that the government already owns is preparing to loot its employees’ pension fund.

Given the position the government took during last year’s strike, let’s not expect too many favours.

However, there are still some good Labour MPs who provide support for the CWU. A solid political campaign is required with Billy Hayes leading from the front.

In the meantime all CWU members can assist the union by registering our anger at this announcement.

We can tell our line managers, write to Allan Leighton, Adam Crozier and our local MP – and vote to reject the attack on pensions in the consultative ballot.


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Tue 4 Mar 2008, 19:06 GMT
Issue No. 2091
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