ROYAL MAIL, a company that boasts of its equality and anti-racist polices, has appointed a leading British National Party member to a management position at Northampton's main sorting office.
Peter Folwell, county organiser for the BNP, is now the night shift transport manager at the Crow Lane office. The appointment has caused outrage among workers-black, white and Asian-and in the CWU union nationally.
One Asian member of staff at Crow Lane told Socialist Worker, 'It is an absolute disgrace that someone with links to the BNP should be placed in charge of a team of people which includes black and Asian employees. Whoever offered him the job should be sacked, and Folwell himself should not be working for Royal Mail.'
In March the Northampton area management and the union signed a joint statement called 'Racial comments and the BNP'. It said, 'Both Royal Mail Northamptonshire and the Northamptonshire Amalgamated branch of the Communication Workers Union are proud to have a diverse and tolerant workforce.
'Over recent weeks discussions have been raised in certain areas of the office referring to organisations that exist to exploit racial tensions within society and within our workforce. In addition two complaints have been received, which are currently being investigated, in relation to racist comments made to other members of staff. Graffiti has appeared on notices with the letters 'BNP' which is causing offence to employees.
'This joint letter is to advise all staff that this behaviour is totally unacceptable to both Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union. Individuals making remarks or promoting racial tensions within this office by canvassing on behalf of organisations will not be tolerated.'
Now, eight months later, Royal Mail is so committed to rooting out anyone 'promoting racial tension' that it has made a BNP member a manager! Folwell is a member of the CWU union. The union must launch a big campaign to get Folwell sacked. It should also drive him out of the CWU.
Under present laws BNP members have sometimes won compensation when they were excluded from unions. These members of a viciously racist party claim that such treatment infringes their human rights! This should not deter the unions from cleansing themselves of BNP members, especially when they are managers.
The government has promised recently that it will amend the law to allow unions to expel 'racist activists'. But unions should not wait for the law to change-which may take a considerable time and could still leave loopholes for BNP members to exploit.
As a Northampton CWU rep told Socialist Worker, 'Every day that this man is ordering around workers is a stain on this office and our union.'
POSTAL WORKERS in London have suspended strikes planned for 19 and 22 December over London weighting.
The decision was endorsed at a meeting of London CWU union reps on Monday after it became clear that the threat of action has changed management's tone in talks over the issue.
However, strike plans may be reinstated in January if there is not an acceptable response to the union's claim for £4,000 London weighting and a formula that would increase weighting payments year on year.
At the start of this week there was no new formal offer over weighting. But union officials have indicated that big strides have been made towards settling the dispute.
This remains to be seen. One CWU member told Socialist Worker, 'I feel a bit uneasy about calling off the strikes. But Royal Mail should not think the anger has gone away over London weighting, and they will get a nasty surprise if they try to pull a fast one on this.'
Across Britain postal workers have been waiting to hear the result of the talks that followed the unofficial strikes in October and November. The negotiations between the CWU union and Royal Mail cover the crucial issues of delivery arrangements, major changes in other parts of the business, job losses and much else.
The deadline for the negotiations to end was Wednesday this week. It is absolutely essential that any deal agreed does not give away the gains and the momentum which were won through the unofficial action.
Rank and file workers must look carefully at anything which emerges from the talks, and insist that there is time for real democratic discussion about such important agreements that could shape the job for years to come.