Socialist Worker

Post dispute round-up

Issue No. 2175

TUC is playing the wrong role

Royal Mail strikers were angry at news this week that the TUC was brokering talks rather than organising solidarity for their dispute.

“Brendan Barber and the other leaders of the TUC want a deal at any cost,” said Paul Garraway, a CWU union branch secretary from Oxford.

“The TUC could build support for the local strike action.

“Last week they could have urged every trade unionist to get on to our picket lines.

“Instead, all we get is our union being pushed into meetings with bosses who have already shown that they want to smash the CWU out of the industry.”


Petty bosses pull the plug

How petty minded are Royal Mail managers? Their antics at Southend mail centre in Essex give us a clue.

During last week’s strike, bosses awarded themselves and other scabs free drinks and snacks by turning the settings on vending machines to “free”.

They were unable to reset the machines when strikers returned to work the following day and, as a result, CWU union members gleefully helped themselves to free food.

One senior manager was so infuriated at seeing the strikers’ joy that he took drastic action—and cut the plug off the machine.


Death after sick leave warning

A Manchester postal worker suffering from terminal cancer was given a warning by Royal Mail managers that he was taking too much sick leave.

Cliff Sharp, who worked at the city’s SE delivery office, was told to attend a stage one disciplinary hearing—but died earlier this month.

His funeral was to be on Tuesday of this week.

Workers at the office told Socialist Worker that they were aghast at the callousness of their management.

Mike Killian


Unite asks managers not to break strike

A grassroots campaign within the Unite union in protest at its members volunteering to cross post picket lines has pushed the union’s leaders to write to members of the Communication Managers Association (CMA), which is part of Unite.

Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, Unite’s joint general secretaries, say in the letter, “It is our wish to give the CWU all possible support within the law to help ensure a satisfactory settlement to the dispute.

“We would therefore ask you to ensure that you undertake no work beyond your normal duties which would assist management in its efforts to undermine this legitimate industrial action.

“Please be assured that if you are subject to any management pressure to undertake such duties, you will have the union’s strong support.

“Indeed, should Royal Mail seek to bully or discipline any CMA member as a consequence of this dispute, Unite will not hesitate to organise a ballot for industrial action in support of any such colleague.”

A senior shop steward in Unite said, “This letter is a result of lobbying by CWU members and activists organising within Unite to put together a motion against the scabbing. We are delighted.”


Acas attacks its own workers

CWU union officials want to negotiate with Royal Mail management at the Acas conciliation service, which is supposed to be an “unbiased mediator”.

But the service may not be quite so balanced as it appears.

The PCS union believes that Acas is actively pursuing a policy of dismissing its temporary workers after 51 weeks, just before they gain full employment rights.

A policy for Acas directors reads, “In terminating the contracts of temporary staff after 52 weeks’ service we are at risk from ET [employment tribunal] claims, particularly when work they are engaged to carry out is still required.”


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