The government is set to try to sell off Royal Mail once again, it announced this week.
Postal workers rightly fear privatisation will lead to a further attack on their jobs, pay and conditions—and postal services will suffer.
Dave Ward, deputy leader of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), this week told delegates to his union’s conference to prepare for a massive fight over the issue.
He reminded the government that the union had defeated three previous attempts to privatise Royal Mail, including one pushed by Labour and Lord Mandelson last year.
Ward also told delegates to expect an attempt to raid Royal Mail pensions.
He warned ministers that the union is “battle-hardened, not battle weary” and that he would “not hesitate” to use industrial action to defend his members.
But others in the leadership made it clear that they wanted a political campaign, and did not see industrial action as central.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said that winning Labour MPs to oppose the government’s plans was the crucial first step, and that it might not be possible to formulate an industrial dispute against privatisation.
But some senior union activists disagree.
Lee Barron, the union’s Midlands regional secretary, told Socialist Worker that privatisation would result in a “race to the bottom” as Royal Mail’s competitors sought to undercut the firm.
“Strikes are a crucial way of defending ourselves,” he said. “I don’t see any difficulty in forming a legitimate industrial dispute to protect our jobs, wages and conditions.”
“We cannot simply rely on politicians to protect Royal Mail. The best people to do that are members, because we deliver the service.”