Socialist Worker

16,000 postal jobs at risk - if we don’t fight

by Simon Midgley, CWU area delivery sub rep, Bradford & District Amal branch (pc)
Issue No. 2138

Postal workers woke up to shocking newspaper headlines last week that talked of 16,000 job losses at Royal Mail.

Our CWU union says it has seen evidence that the company wants to make 10 percent budget savings in every workplace.

The only way this can be done is by slashing full-time jobs and cutting part-time contracts.

All local managers have been given their own budget cut targets, and will be pushing for savings to be made by April.

This latest news comes hot on the heels of government talk of part-privatisation, attacks on our pensions and conditions, and a host of office closures without any negotiations with the union.

We are clearly facing a bosses’ offensive. So it is vital that our union makes it clear we are prepared to take industrial action to defend our jobs and services.

There is absolutely no time to lose if we are to halt Royal Mail’s slash-and-burn approach.

The Hooper Review into postal services said that Royal Mail could operate with half its current number of mail centres and between one fifth and one third fewer delivery offices.

This would be achieved by mechanising nearly all the sorting and preparation of mail for delivery – work that is at present mostly done by hand.

The next few weeks will be crucial for postal workers. Royal Mail managers want to steam ahead with their cuts. The CWU must resist this at all levels.

Like the London division, we in the northeast have already adopted a policy of opposing the bosses’ savings targets.

But this is a national fight and it must not be left to union branches or regions to fight this on their own.

The CWU wants Royal Mail to negotiate a new national agreement on modernisation and automation.

But Royal Mail management is not going to do this willingly.

We need to force them to negotiate through a national industrial action ballot.

Winning such a ballot will require us to put forward our own vision of the future of Royal Mail that we are asking our members to fight for.

In the current economic climate, when members are worried about their jobs, fighting Royal Mail’s job cuts agenda would be massively popular.

CWU conference voted last year to campaign for a 35-hour gross working week with no loss of pay.

This policy could save thousands of jobs. But we have yet to see a campaign over the issue.

Reps and activists must make sure our union leadership sticks to this policy – and prepares to fight once again for a decent future and full-time jobs in Royal Mail.


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News
Tue 10 Feb 2009, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2138
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