Socialist Worker

CWU conference: privatisation debate

Issue No. 2105

Labour must shape up, or we’re shipping out. That was the message from delegates in the discussion on the fight to defend pensions, public services and offices threatened with closure.

Delegates voted by a massive majority to endorse a motion put by London branches that called for the government to be given until March 2009 to back off from attacks on postal workers and the their industry – or face the possibility of the union withdrawing its funding for a future election campaign.

If the Labour Party were to continue with its current policies, the CWU will organise a national ballot on the question of funding for Labour.

Proposing the motion London Divisional rep Martin Walsh said, “The postal service is under the greatest ever, and is facing persistent calls for privatisation.

“Private operators now have more than 20 percent of our sorting and collection business, and Royal Mail is left with the business of delivering the final mile – which accounts for 60 percent of its costs.

“Royal Mail’s business plan is now in tatters, so they want to privatise mail centres and regional distribution centres. This is how they want to fund the Universal Service Obligation that guarantees deliveries to all parts of the country for the same price.

“Now is the time to use our link with Labour, or to lose it.”

Seconding the motion London division rep Mark Palfrey said, “It is a sad indictment of this Labour government that when the history books come to be written about the death of the final salary pensions scheme, and the question is raised as to what Labour did to remedy the problem, the answer will come – nothing.”

Paul Turnbull from the Eastern No.4 branch reminded the conference that it has passed similar motions before and that they had not been acted on. To loud applause he demanded that this motion be honoured.

General secretary Billy Hayes spoke for the motion saying, “We have a message for the government. There will be neither blank cheques, nor even any cheques in the post if you back off from the commitment made to a publicly owned postal service contained in the Warwick Agreement.”


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