Delivery workers in Upper Edmonton, north London, are in a militant mood following a successful strike last Saturday. Leading CWU union activists say their action could soon spread across London.
Royal Mail is trying to introduce new 35-hour week contracts for people starting at the office without union agreement. This will mean extra work for all those on the existing 40‑hour contracts—and less pay for all new starters.
“The new contract is the first step to bringing in a part-time workforce,” Mark Dolan, the CWU’s north London rep, told Socialist Worker. “That is something we will not tolerate.
“The strike was extremely solid, despite being a very small office without a reputation for strong union organisation. That shows the strength of feeling.
“I met with workers in Edmonton this week. We talked about other ways in which we could show our opposition to the contracts, including reviving the union’s Do Your Job Properly campaign.
“This would involve workers taking all scheduled breaks, refusing to use their own cars to speed up deliveries, and not accepting bags that weigh over agreed limits.
“Everyone was enthusiastic to take more action. This small strike shows the way our members everywhere can be expected to respond if the union nationally asks them to take action over privatisation, job cuts, pensions or pay.”
New contracts are being threatened in many other places across the postal service. In some areas the local union has allowed them through, despite it being national union policy to oppose them.
Mark says that the union in north London is determined to hold the line: “There is no way we can allow this fight to be restricted to Upper Edmonton. Pretty soon it’s going to be an issue for all of north London, and then for London as a whole.
“The CWU’s London division has a policy that if Royal Mail attempts to implement its ‘savings plans’ and ‘new contracts’ in any area without our agreement, then London should respond as one. The time is coming when we must be prepared to act on that policy.”
CWU Young members’ conference
Debate on some of the biggest political issues of the day dominated the young members’ conference of the communication workers’ CWU union last week.
More than 75 delegates discussed the threat of the Nazi BNP and the role we can play in stopping them. We also passed motions on the crisis facing the environment and the threat to privatise Royal Mail.
Away from conference floor many delegates spoke of their frustration at the slow pace of the union’s campaign against the privatisation threat.
Some thought that the union should now be preparing for a national strike.
The conference shows how young trade unionists are taking up key issues. It demonstrates how young people increasingly see unions as part of the way we can change our society.
Jamie Andrews, delegate to CWU Youth conference, Eastern No.4 branch (pc)