What are the key issues behind the post dispute?
This is a battle to defend a vital public service that bosses and the government are determined to run down in preparation for another go at privatisation.
Some 53,000 jobs have been slashed since 2002 and we are fighting to maintain full-time contracts as they try to shift us to part-time, casual ones.
The battle is also about the future of the union in the industry. Royal Mail bosses want to break us so they can ram through change without having to ask those who do the job first.
Is the union against modernisation of the industry?
No, that’s a red herring. We want new technology to replace the outdated machinery that fills most offices.
But we want to improve the service we provide and reduce the current 40-hour week, rather than simply make profits for those at the top.
“Modernisation” should never mean attacks on workers.
Is Royal Mail on the brink of collapse – and will a strike push it over the edge?
People who say the company is going to go bankrupt are just trying to frighten us.
Last year Royal Mail made a massive £321 million profit – and the directors and managers have been awarding themselves handouts as a result.
A lot has been made of companies such as Amazon switching some of their contracts to private firms over the past few weeks.
But there are no private firms that can deliver the amount of mail that we do, and none that will do the final mile to your doorstep in every part of the country.
If anyone is going to bankrupt Royal Mail it’s the government, which has tried to hand the advantage to the private firms.
Are people posting fewer letters and parcels than they used to?
Royal Mail love to say that the amount of mail has decreased by 10 percent with the rise of the internet, but they are refusing any independent verification.
When our CWU union conducted its own spot checks, it found that the amount and weight that is being delivered by each worker is going up, not down.
And the size of the workforce has been reduced by 30 percent – so even if it were true that workers are handling 10 percent less mail, Royal Mail’s own figures mean we are still working harder than ever.
Pressure to deliver ever greater amounts is what lies behind management’s plans to have post workers jogging at four miles an hour and working unpaid overtime to complete our rounds.
Isn’t there a “black hole” in the pension scheme?
Pensions are not some kind of bonus – they are deferred wages, owed to us when we retire.
Royal Mail’s pensions schemes are in deficit but that is not the workers’ fault.
It was the bosses who decided that the firm should take a contributions “holiday” for more than a decade, even though workers carried on paying in as normal.
The accountants who run the scheme say that the deficit is nearing £10 billion, but they base that on the average life expectancy of a post worker being 86 years.
If only that were true. Most male manual workers don’t even make it to 76 years old.
Why should the general public back the strikes, and what can people do to help?
The government and those who run the industry want us all to pay for their bailout of the banks by accepting job and pay cuts, and the slashing of public services.
Post workers are among their first targets but be sure that if they get away with it here, they’ll be after you next.
By standing together with us, you will make it much harder for whichever government is elected to push through more attacks.
For that reason we want solidarity from the entire trade union movement.
We want you on our picket lines and we want support meetings in every town and city.
Let’s show that united we are an unbeatable force.
What you can do to support the strikes
- Do a collection at your workplace
- Take it to the picket line
- Organise a solidarity meeting