Socialist Worker

Battle intensifies as post strikes spread

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2163

The dispute between postal workers in the CWU union and their Royal Mail bosses is becoming more bitter by the day. Strikes are set to take place across much of Britain over the next week.

Postal workers have launched a wave of action in recent weeks against attempts to cut jobs and impose changes to their working conditions.

Management has also stepped up its victimisation of CWU reps and is making cuts without consultation or agreement with the union.

This has intensified the anger at post workplaces across Britain, and many people are asking why the union is allowing the company to dictate the pace of the struggle.

London has been at the centre of the resistance, with a number of strikes taking place there.

Management last week turned the screws on the planned part-day strike action that was set to hit offices across the city on different days last week.

Royal Mail sent a letter to the CWU saying that it was “not acceptable” for workers to only perform part of their duties during the day.

It said that any workers “who only attend for work for part of the shift because they are on strike for the other part will not be paid at all for that shift”.

Advice

Faced with this threat, the union suspended last week’s action in most offices so that it could seek legal advice over the issue.

Strikes did take place in a few offices, notably the large Rathbone Place delivery centre in central London.

Workers there walked out together to be greeted by a show of support including banners and delegations from Camden trades council and the PCS civil service workers’ union. There was a buoyant and defiant mood against management.

This latest attack on workers’ right to strike has only increased CWU members’ determination to beat their bosses. Their union leaders now need to match up to the level of the attack.

The union is planning a national ballot of all its postal worker members. This is to be welcomed, as is the commitment to keeping the rolling programme of local strikes going.

But in many areas where postal workers have voted to join the fight, or are in the process of being balloted, things are moving too slowly.

In some areas union officials are failing to give a lead, and management is being allowed to set the pace.

In London, action is planned at all London offices except Rathbone Place on Friday of this week.

On the same day, strikes are also set to hit the crucial Crick distribution centre in Northamptonshire, the Coventry hub, and the Birmingham network centre on Friday.

Workers at 15 offices in Bristol are to strike on Saturday.

Across the country, new sections of the workforce are joining the fight each week.

CWU members in the PE postcode are to take industrial action at different times between Thursday of this week and Monday of next week.

This will hit delivery offices in Boston, Skegness, Huntingdon, King’s Lynn and Peterborough.

Adam Oakes, the CWU’s area delivery rep in the Eastern region, said, “Strikes are a proportionate response to an employer that is completely out of control.

“Rather than running the business, Royal Mail’s actions demonstrate they are intent on destroying it.”

There will also be strikes at the Ipswich mail centre and delivery offices in Thetford and Bury St Edmonds.

New Labour’s backing of Royal Mail management has only increased the anger against the party that the CWU is affiliated to. The London region of the CWU has demanded a ballot of all its members over the link with Labour.


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News
Tue 4 Aug 2009, 19:27 BST
Issue No. 2163
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