Activists in the postal workers’ CWU union are angry after an Employment Tribunal ruled against four union reps from the Burslem delivery office in Stoke-on-Trent last week.
The reps were among 12 workers who were sacked or suspended in 2007.
Royal Mail accused the activists of “intimidation”—but workers say the bosses were doing the intimidating.
The tribunal was not asked to rule on the reps’ behaviour or whether the company had acted harshly by sacking them. It merely asked if Royal Mail had broken its own disciplinary procedures when dealing with the reps.
“This is an outrageous decision with serious implications for the whole trade union movement,” Lee Baron, the CWU’s Midlands regional secretary, told Socialist Worker.
“The only crime these people committed was to stand up for their union.
“Some have been sacked for things they are alleged to have said in union meetings. Frankly, that’s none of Royal Mail’s business.”
The Burslem case has a high profile within the CWU nationally. Many believe that if Royal Mail can drive the union out of such a well-organised office, they will move on to others.
Postal workers from across Britain joined a demonstration in Stoke in support of Burslem in January 2008. At the same time CWU members across North Staffordshire were voting on strike action to defend their colleagues.
The union agreed not to announce the ballot result after Royal Mail said that outstanding cases would be referred to a National Appeals Panel. But the panel declared in the bosses’ favour.
“We have to return to old fashioned tactics,” one rep told Socialist Worker. “As soon as one of our people is sacked or suspended, we need strikes—official if possible, unofficial if necessary.
“In the past, that’s the way we’ve saved my job. And there are hundreds of other reps who are still working at Royal Mail who would say the same.”
March to stop the closure of Stevenage mail centre, Saturday 30 October. Assemble 12.30pm, Stevenage mail centre, London Road, SG1 1AA