Socialist Worker

The post workers can win

Issue No. 2174

The scale of preparation by the bosses and the government can lead to workers feeling powerless, or even despairing.

But these documents underline the need for bold and resolute leadership on our side, and for the union to use all its strength in this crucial fight.

Dave Ward, the CWU’s deputy general secretary, says postal workers are in a “battle over the future of the industry. It is on a scale which comes along only every 50 or 60 years.”

If that’s true then the CWU’s leaders must stop begging the government to go to arbitration, and launch hard-hitting action. And they should stop asking the government to “help out”. The government is actively working to help smash the union.

Royal Mail and Lord Mandelson do not want a compromise – they want blood. But all the well-laid plans and scabbing operations in the world would mean very little if postal workers launched extended strikes.

The 100 biggest customers, who account for 50 percent of the post, would soon be squealing. One slide reveals the scale of management’s fears, saying bosses should “seek to avoid” a “total ongoing London stoppage”.

Last weekend, Billy Hayes, the union’s general secretary, said he “would not rule out” an indefinite, all-out strike. “That is a real possibility,” he said. So let’s see it!

All the threats to the CWU would crumble if other unions and the TUC said they would not allow the postal workers to be isolated. The truth is very few union leaders are prepared to even contemplate such solidarity, let alone make it happen. It is up to rank and file workers to organise to achieve it.

Years of defeat have sapped workers’ confidence. Now there are the first signs of a renewed fightback.

The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote that workers and their organisations can become used to the idea that the other side – the bosses and the government – are too strong to beat. But he warned, “A moment comes when this habit of regarding the enemy as stronger becomes the main obstacle on the road to victory.”

The plans revealed in these documents should make us all even more determined to ensure a victory for our side.

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