Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2174

A post worker on the picket line in south London (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

A post worker on the picket line in south London (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

Don’t fall for bosses’ lies about post strikes

Royal Mail bosses are spreading lies about post workers’ “Spanish practices” – lies that the right wing press are only too happy to promote.

These practices supposedly include workers going home more than three hours early every day, and claiming more than two hours overtime a day for work they have not done.

But the reality is very different. If a post worker claims so much as one minute of overtime that bosses do not think they are entitled to then the managers are all over them like a rash. If workers return to the office early then they are simply given more work to do.

Many post workers come into work early for no extra pay, work through their lunch breaks, and use their own cars to do deliveries – with no extra payment.

So what do Royal Mail bosses really mean by an end to “Spanish practices”? They mean they want postal workers to work even harder, even longer, and for no reward at the end of it.

That is why it is so important that post workers fight back against the bullying tactics of Royal Mail – and fight for the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work.

Geoff Breeze, CWU rep, Hedge End delivery office (pc), Southampton

For two years now, the post workers’ CWU union has been trying to negotiate change in good faith. But Royal Mail has systematically broken its promises.

Senior managers want to slash and burn the public postal service until privatisation fills their pockets as a reward. Meanwhile, post workers are paid £80 a week less than the average manual workers’ wage.

Of the £350 million profit the company made last year, most went on excessive bonus payments to senior managers.

Christmas generates two thirds of profits. But after the recent examples of management bullying, Christmas strikes cannot be dismissed.

Tam Dewar, CWU delivery rep, Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway

The comments after news articles about the postal strike on the internet are just sad. People write things like “I don’t get my post until 12 o’clock, so it’s a good job the Royal Mail is going down the pan”.

But it is the managers who have made it this way. Capitalist managers run down industries and organisations under state control to give them the illusion of being inefficient in order to ensure their demise.

They are doing the same thing to Royal Mail as they did to British Rail and council housing.

Do you think it is John the postman’s fault that the mail is delivered after noon? He works hard for a paltry wage – it’s not his decision.

The workers at Royal Mail are being sacrificed, and they should strike with full force for as long as is necessary.

Does it really matter if you get your Next catalogue five days late? Think about it – the next job they come for might be yours.

Richard Reid, Solihull

Resisters’ legacy goes on

I’m writing with a couple of points on Ian Birchall’s article about the Army of Crime (» Did the ‘Army of Crime‘ die for France?, 10 October).

The phrase “died for France” (“mort pour la France”) is a slogan, still chanted at Resistance ceremonies today, where Communists, Second World War resisters, ex-prisoners of war and ex-slave labourers stand shoulder to shoulder with their “comrades” who fought against Vietnamese and Algerians.

I attend one every year in central France, and it’s a deeply contradictory occasion.

However, the speeches are usually topical and combative, pointing out that the left’s demands of the time – for peace and an end to exploitation – are just as relevant today as they were then.

It should also be said that resisting the occupying armies involved many different activities, not just assassinations.

The liberation of the city of Limoges, for example, was carried out without any loss of life, largely thanks to the leadership of a dissident Communist and the humanity of the German commander.

On another occasion, under instruction from US general Eisenhower and the British, very poorly armed Resistance fighters were called on to attack German tanks heading north to Normandy for D-Day.

The possibility of fraternisation that Ian mentions wasn’t an option in this case – you can’t fraternise with a fast-moving line of tanks.

Also, the story of what happened to the Jewish population of France is rather complicated. Most of the Jews in France who died did so as a result of deportation through Drancy and on to Auschwitz – some 75,000.

They were nearly all, like my great uncle, Jews born outside of France. Virtually all the French-born Jews, somewhere in the region of 200,000, survived Vichy and the Occupation. Quite why and how this happened would need another article.

Michael Rosen, East London

Why I’ve abandoned Labour for socialism

I’m a 17 year old socialist and human rights campaigner, but nobody takes me seriously when I mention that, or when I talk of the fascist threat of the British National Party (BNP).

Is this because I’m young, or just because people are ignorant?

As an openly gay person living in South Wales I have suffered from verbal and physical abuse.

When I’ve written to the council I’ve just received patronising responses that didn’t solve the problem at all. They are utterly complacent in addressing homophobia and sexism.

My family are strong Labour supporters but I’ve become so disillusioned by their apathetic attitudes on social, cultural and economic issues that, having read a little Marx, I’ve changed my allegiance to socialism.

With the impending collapse of capitalism, I would imagine we aren’t far off from achieving our goal.

I aspire to be part of government someday. I’d like to be the Aneurin Bevan of today – he is my main inspiration – and change Britain for the better.

I’m involved in a local socialist group which is gaining ground campaigning for an egalitarian, fair society and democracy.

All we can hope for now is that the rabid right won’t get in come next election.

Daniel Pitt, Rhondda

Stop picking on young mothers

The infuriating suggestion by Gordon Brown of “a network of supervised care homes” for young mothers (» Letters, 17 October) is a return to Victorian-style workhouses.

How is forcing young women to live away from their family, and potentially their supportive partners, going to help them?

It only serves to push these young women out onto the periphery of society.

I think it’s about time we respected young women for dealing with the challenge of having children, rather than viewing them as having a huge burden to carry around.

Adding a decade to your age doesn’t necessarily make you better equipped to be a parent.

The main reason why many young women have low self esteem is because of the demoralising process they go through on a daily basis.

Society’s attitude towards them is relentlessly negative.

They are told that they lack education and ambition, or that they just want money from the state.

How about we stop telling these young women what they are and start asking them, “What do you want?”

Siobhan Schwartzberg, Newcastle

Drinking away the profits

I heartily agree with Roger Protz that we should support a vital part of working class culture by going to the pub (» Beer ‘counter-culture’ hits back at the big brewers, 10 October).

But the idea that small brewers are immune from the profit motive is surely naive.

Indeed, the explosion of the microbrewery sector over the last few years was triggered by the introduction of Progressive Beer Duty which, by taxing smaller brewers at a lower rate, has made them more profitable.

We have also seen the development of a layer of successful small brewers, which we might call super micros, that are substantial businesses.

Small capital is, in the end, no different to big capital in having to make a profit. That, however, should not stop us drinking their beer.

Phil Mellows, Brighton

We need the miners’ spirit

I heard a useful comment recently about Socialist Worker’s “open letter to the left”, about left unity in elections.

It came from someone who spoke about the way so many left factions were able to unite when it mattered during the Miners’ Strike, even though they still argued among themselves.

Perhaps those who remember how it was done then can start spreading the word, both to people who’ve forgotten and to those who weren’t even born at the time.

Then the left might not just get more votes than the Nazis, but even win a few seats.

Robert Charleson, Bolton

Is sexism all men’s fault?

Does the blame for sexism lie with men (» Does the blame for sexism lie with men?, 3 October)?

Well, men who marry live longer than men who don’t marry, while women who don’t marry live longer than women who do.

These facts support the anecdotal evidence that men of all classes benefit from marriage at the expense of women.

But, more importantly, capitalism benefits from marriage, as oppressed women supply unpaid labour in the home to help raise the next generation of workers.

The only solution, of course is socialism, where the institution of the family will be replaced with socialist measures.

David Boyle, Brisbane, Australia

Stop Blair’s EU head bid

“Tony Blair’s actions while in office should be under severe scrutiny as part of a criminal investigation.

“He is apparently beyond the law, making decisions which benefit himself at the cost of thousands of lives.”

These are the words of one signatory to the Stop Blair Petition at », which now has more than 37,000 signatures.

How can we even contemplate putting a man who unleashed such a wave of death at the head of Europe?

Erika Salzeck, Wiltshire

Well done on post coverage

Your coverage of the Royal Mail strikes has been excellent.

I was going to write a letter to say so, but then thought I’d better send an email instead.

Becky, Manchester

Labour MPs are revolting

At last Labour MPs are beginning to revolt.

Unfortunately, they are not revolting against union busting in the post or at the disgracefully low level of unemployment benefit.

And they are not revolting at Brown’s proposed assets sale, at the obscene bonuses still being paid to bankers – or even at the Afghan war.

Instead, they are revolting against having to pay back some of their fiddled expenses.

Has there ever been such a contemptible shower? Revolting is the right word.

John Newsinger, Leicester

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Article information

Tue 20 Oct 2009, 19:31 BST
Issue No. 2174
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