The government’s policy of part-privatising the post formed the backdrop to many of the debates at the CWU union’s conference last week.
In his address to postal delegates, deputy general secretary Dave Ward argued that the deal to end the recent dispute with Royal Mail over jobs, pay and conditions would put the union in a good position to resist privatisation.
“If further industrial action is necessary to defeat the government, this union will not be found wanting,” he said.
While most delegates backed Ward’s view of the deal, there was some unease about aspects of it.
John Woodhouse from Newcastle was one among many delegates who spoke for a motion that said future agreements with Royal Mail must reject the idea that there would be “winners and losers” among postal workers.
“As a union, we’re here to enhance pay, not reduce it,” he said, referring to a large number of part time and other employees who have lost out since payments for delivering junk mail were incorporated into regular earnings.
The motion was narrowly defeated following a card vote.
Anger with privatisation attempts by the previous Labour government also surfaced in many debates.
Though heavily defeated in a vote, many delegates from beyond the hard left backed a motion to explore support for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
And Cambridge delegate Paul Turnbull successfully overturned the executive to remove honorary membership from Lord Young.
A former leader of the CWU, Young was a minister responsible for the post office under Gordon Brown.
Against the EDL
Delegates reinforced their strong stand against racism by passing policy against the English Defence League (EDL).
Kye Dudd from Bristol talked about how members of the EDL attacked a public meeting organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) in his town.
“They came to the meeting shouting abuse against Muslims,” he said.
“The EDL are foot-soldiers for the British National Party (BNP).
“We need a concerted campaign to stop them.”
Amarjite Singh, secretary of the union’s Cardiff branch, told the conference that the Welsh Defence League is planning a demonstration in his city this Saturday 5 June.
Simon Sapper backed the motion on behalf of the union’s executive.
“If these people are prepared to attack a UAF public meeting, then they will be prepared to attack a meeting against privatisation organised by a union,” he said.