The national strike by postal workers this week is a battle that will determine the future.
On one side stands 120,000 of some of the lowest paid workers in Britain.
We want to stop Royal Mail from slashing tens of thousands more jobs, ripping up terms and conditions, and breaking our CWU union.
We are battling to defend a vital public service from the vultures of privatisation who are circling the industry.
Alongside us are our allies – millions of working class people who know what it is like to live on low pay, with managers who believe their role in life is to humiliate you.
And we should have the full weight of Britain’s six million trade union members behind us.
Against us stands the entire forces of the ruling class.
First, there are the bosses, who tell us that we must make sacrifices, while they line their own pockets. Then come the newspaper editors who lecture us that by striking we are “turkeys voting for Christmas”.
Now even the police chiefs are wading in – just to keep the peace, of course.
And, its seems that there are others who have joined the enemies’ side – Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown and the rest of the Labour government.
As the company threatens to bring in 30,000 agency workers to break our strike, we have heard not a word of criticism from a minister.
What an outrage that a party that has gladly taken millions of pounds of postal workers’ money is lining up with a ruthless management in a bid to crush our union.
Mandelson is doing all he can to back the company, saying that strikes are “suicidal” and “not the way to resolve differences”.
All our foes say that we must abandon our fight and embrace Royal Mail’s vision of change. But what would that mean?
Thousands more would be forced on to the dole. Full-time permanent workers would find themselves replaced by casual part-timers.
And by breaking the strength of the union, our already pitiful pay and long hours would be made far worse.
Bullying managers would be completely let off the leash, and those who stand up to them would quickly find themselves out of a job.
Anyone who doubts this is Royal Mail’s aim should look at the four-page exposé of the company’s plans in the centre of this week’s Socialist Worker.
Here you can read about management’s slash and burn strategy in their own words.
The government, and bosses from every industry, are clear about the need to support Royal Mail management in this battle. They know that these are the first shots in a wider war on all workers and on public services.
The trade union movement needs to be equally clear.
Postal workers need your solidarity, not just to maintain their strike through the hardship of lost pay.
If we win against Royal Mail and Mandelson, all workers win.
I appeal to every trade unionist to take a collection for our strike fund this week, to join us on our picket lines, and to take part in and build local solidarity meetings.
Together we can put a stop to the juggernaut of job losses, pay cuts and service slashing that has become the signature of this rotten government.