The likelihood of a London-wide strike at Royal Mail took a big step forward this week as leaders of the postal workers’ CWU union sanctioned a ballot of the region.
Senior figures in the union also report strong signs that the mood for action is spreading across Britain
Attempts by post bosses to ram through cost-saving measures – including job cuts, reduced hour contracts and voluntary redundancies – without the agreement of the union are the trigger for most disputes.
In some areas that will lead to strikes, in others there are ballots for action short of a strike.
A strike in a region the size of London would be a major blow to the government’s attempt to privatise Royal Mail, which many activists believe lies behind management’s assault.
Managers around the country are meeting stiff resistance from the union. In the last two weeks the CWU has received at least 20 requests for industrial action ballots – including all of Scotland, with the exception of Glasgow.
“Royal Mail bosses talk of ‘modernisation’ but these cuts are really about trying to destroy the CWU,” London division rep Martin Walsh told Socialist Worker.
“Under Royal Mail’s plan we stand to lose around 1,600 jobs in London almost immediately, with the prospect of thousands more to follow.
“More delivery workers’ jobs will become part-time, making it harder to fight for full-time jobs in the future. There are even rumours of another London mail centre closure.
“The bosses are deliberately breaking our national agreements and trying to marginalise us. But we are not going to stand by and allow that to happen. We are going to fight for a national agreement.
“In the run-up to the ballot we will be organising meetings in every office and all our reps will be putting the case for the strike.
“We’ll tell the members that we are fighting to ensure that Royal Mail cannot walk all over the union and to protect full time jobs, and terms and conditions in the future.
“We are absolutely confident of winning an overwhelming yes vote for strike action. We know that postal workers in many other parts of the country are facing similar assaults.
“Together we can ensure that we win a national agreement with the company for all postal workers.”
Postal workers in Woolwich, south east London, are preparing for a second day of strike action this Saturday in defence of a sacked colleague.
“Management know they don’t have a case but they are continuing to victimise our member,” CWU union branch secretary Roy Vargerson told Socialist Worker.
“We’ve offered talks, and a way for Royal Mail to back down, but so far they’ve refused our offers.
“But if management are hard, we are harder. The mood among workers here is extremely determined – and we will win.”
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