Socialist Worker

Put post strikes back on, say reps across country

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2179

Union leaders were meeting to discuss whether to resume national post strikes as Socialist Worker went to press.

The deal which led to the suspension of industrial action was supposed to end management’s practice of imposing cuts without union agreement.

But there has been a raft of attacks by Royal Mail managers since the signing of the “interim agreement” between the company and the union last month.

The scale of the bosses’ assault, which has so far been centred on the East of England, Essex and London, means that many reps who welcomed the agreement are now saying Royal Mail has broken it.

The powerful London division of the union last week discussed the ongoing battle, and, despite having previously backed the agreement, unanimously decided to press for the restarting of national strikes.

Activists who were suspicious of bosses’ motives from the beginning have had their fears confirmed in recent days.

“When the deal was ann­ounced management in our area seemed to back off a little,” says Dave Scott, a senior union rep in Suffolk.

“But today they’ve informed us that in Bury St Edmunds, not only are they maintaining attacks that were announced before the deal, they plan to implement new ones on 11 January – without union consultation.

“It makes a mockery of the ‘period of calm’ that the agreement was supposed to offer. Members in our area are not known for being militant but we want the national strikes back on, and quickly.”

And it is not just in delivery offices where the deal is falling apart, says Nick Loube, who represents mail centre workers across Suffolk.

“Royal Mail is still punishing us for daring to go strike,” he told Socialist Worker. “They are using a massive number of casuals to reduce the amount of overtime available.

“That means that some people are losing up to £100 a week.”

Many activists are convinced that Royal Mail is planning to beat the union by using a divide and rule strategy.

For example, in Bristol, pressure from the union has seen two reps who had been suspended return to work.

The reps were removed from their duties at the city’s South West Distribution Centre eight weeks ago for wearing football scarves around their chins while picketing. This, said Royal Mail, was “intimidating behaviour”.

Union branch secretary David Wilshire told Socialist Worker that the reps’ reinstatement was a “victory of the union”.

Dave Scott says, “Management in some areas are abiding by the agreement and giving the union what it wants.

“But in others, like the East of England, they are pressing on with their attacks.

“If the national union doesn’t respond with national action, Royal Mail’s plan will have worked and long-term damage will have been done.

“We cannot allow that to happen. The strikes must be put back on.”


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Tue 24 Nov 2009, 18:05 GMT
Issue No. 2179
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