Socialist Worker

Union fightback: ‘We can strike and beat these plans’

Issue No. 2141

The intense mistrust of privatisation coupled with anger at the rich who are pocketing state bailouts, means that there is a groundswell of support for the campaign against the post sell-off.

But beating the government will take more than public opinion. Lord Mandelson in particular has now staked his authority on the sale going through.

“It’s good that there’s a political campaign inside and outside parliament,” says Mark Dolan, a senior rep for the CWU postal workers’ union in north London. “But let’s be clear – we will only be able to see this attack off if we’re prepared to launch a national strike.

“Some people in the leadership of the union are arguing against this. They say that strikes will lose us public support, and that there is no basis for a trade dispute over privatisation.

“That’s nonsense. If we explain to the public that we are fighting to defend their services, we will keep them with us.

“Everyone knows that when public utilities are sold off, jobs are axed, service quality goes through the floor, and a handful end up making a packet in profits.

“We should be out on the streets with a national demonstration in London against the sell off. We need stalls against privatisation in every high street and we should leaflet football matches, housing estates and every public gathering.

“That way we’ll take the public with us when we strike.

“There are plenty of reasons for a lawful industrial dispute. There are last year’s cuts to our pension scheme that our members have already rejected by a massive majority.

“There’s the closure of offices and mail centres that we’ve already balloted over, and this year’s pay campaign is due to start about now too.

“Royal Mail has looked at the way we have responded to these challenges since the end of the national strike in 2007. They think that nationally the union is weak and that they can go on the offensive.”

Yet it is clear that Royal Mail management still fear the power of the union at a local level.

Chief executive Adam Crozier complained to MPs this week that even when bosses reached agreement with the national union, each branch of the union “could decide whether it wants to take part or not”.

This, said Crozier, is a major obstacle to pushing through the kind of cuts and savings that the bosses want. It is a mark of the continuing strength of the union that could be utilised in the battle against the sell-off.

“For our leaders to say we can’t strike over privatisation is just the latest in a line of lame excuses,” says Mark. “The fact that we haven’t yet fought over these issues means there is a fair bit of demoralisation and confusion in the union.

“But, with the right campaign, we can turn that around.A national strike would quickly have this government on the ropes – and we could start to turn the tables on Royal Mail bosses too.”

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