Socialist Worker

'We won't let management stifle debate'

Issue No. 1768

POSTAL WORKERS in north London walked out unofficially last week in defence of union rep Mark Dolan and the right to free speech at work. Mark, who works at the giant NDO office in Islington, was involved in a discussion with fellow workers over the suicide attack on the World Trade Centre.

A worker who was not directly involved in the debate heard what was said and complained to management. Mark had said the deaths were horrific, but added that Socialist Worker was right to point out the role of US policy in creating the conditions where such attacks happened.

Mark subsequently discovered that the worker who made the complaint had known someone who died in the attack. Mark said he would not talk about the issue in the man's hearing, and went to shake hands with him. This led to a further complaint of harassment, and bosses suspended Mark from his job.

Nearly 300 workers in the N1 delivery section and the Barnby Street office in NW1 walked out in protest. Workers said they were not prepared to have management decide what could and could not be discussed by workers.

'We have different views about what has happened in America, but we'll discuss it as workers, not have management impose limitations,' a striker told Socialist Worker. The walkout shook the management.

Bosses agreed that Mark would be reinstated to a job at NDO in a different section-a departure from what normally happens in such cases. An investigation into the case was continuing as Socialist Worker went to press. Mark is one of the best known union activists in London. If any attempt is made to sack him there must be immediate walkouts.


By an Exeter postal worker

UNOFFICIAL action has got results for postal workers in Exeter. The workers have agreed to accept an offer from management which ends their recent dispute.

The agreement conceded the bulk of two union demands around pay and conditions. The recent one-day unofficial stoppage has achieved:

  • A settlement of the immediate demands.

  • A recognition by the employer that local reps have a legitimate right to have members' terms and conditions taken into account.

  • A recognition by the employer that these decisions must be negotiated and agreed by the CWU.

    This shows that unofficial action is effective. We have also learnt that postal workers get support from their fellow workers when they take strike action.

    It was noticeable that the employer became much more conducive to a negotiated settlement once it became clear to them that other offices blacked our mail and were preparing for solidarity action. Other offices in our area will take confidence from the action in Exeter. There are already strike ballots in process in Newton Abbot and Honiton.

    Elephant and Castle

    POST OFFICE bosses have announced the closure of Elephant and Castle post office in south London. The closure will take effect on 10 November. CWU union counter secretary Phillip Craig says, 'This proposed closure is an absolute disgrace.

    'The Post Office's failure to even attempt to find an alternative site will mean that many of the most vulnerable members of the community will now face long and difficult journeys to alternative offices.'

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    Article information

    Sat 29 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1768
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