Newspapers were rife with speculation this week that post workers could resume strikes during the crucial Christmas period.
But union leaders at a meeting on Monday decided to delay any decision about future action until next week, when they plan to “review” progress with Royal Mail on the issues behind the dispute.
The deputy general secretary of the CWU union, Dave Ward, told the union’s postal executive that talks with the company were making significant progress, and that local clashes over the deal could be solved.
He said there was no need to return to strikes at this stage.
But union reps in many parts of Britain have told Socialist Worker that, rather than backing off, Royal Mail managers are continuing their offensive.
In London in particular, where many workers have taken up to 20 days of strike action this year, bosses seem determined to undermine the union by bullying its members.
In north London, where management are attempting to bring in new delivery rounds, longstanding workers have been threatened with disciplinary action for being “too slow” at sorting and delivering their mail.
There are also reported victimisations in a number of offices in south east, south west and central London.
With Royal Mail planning the introduction of new technology next year and the slashing of thousands of jobs, many union activists believe this is a taste of things to come.
“Management have been fairly quiet at my office since we suspended our strikes,” a delivery worker in north London, told Socialist Worker. “But that’s not the case at offices just up the road from here.
“I think they are playing divide and rule. They want everyone to work harder for longer—including unpaid overtime—but they only want to attack one or two offices at a time.
“That’s created a lot of anger and confusion among the members.
“Anger because, during the strikes, we were in such a good position to hit back at Royal Mail.
“And confusion because now the strikes are suspended members are asking, where do we go from here?”
With a new national agreement between the union leadership and Royal Mail due to be signed by the end of this year, there is pressure on both to resolve the current dispute without any further action.
But a host of local grievances could see action flare up at individual offices where bullying managers are looking to exact revenge on strikers.
By putting up the most determined resistance possible, union reps can send a clear signal to management that this will not be tolerated.
“The members in my office are still firmly behind the union,” says the north London delivery worker, “But they cannot be turned on and off whenever it suits our leaders.”
He’s right. In order to face down bully-boy bosses, the union should name the dates for the resumption of action—otherwise management will see weaknesses that they can exploit.