Leaders of the postal workers’ union today warned the government that plans to privatise Royal Mail could be met by strikes.
Addressing a 500-strong rally in London against the sell off, CWU deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, said that the government’s privatisation plans threatened to undermine the agreement signed between the union and Royal Mail that settled last years’ national strike.
He warned postal workers that the coalition planned to “raid” their pensions under the pretext of bailing out the scheme’s debts.
In response, Ward insisted that the union would raise the profile of its campaign.
“The arrogance of this government is becoming clearer, and it will be a real task to defeat them,” he said, before adding, “We will go to our reps and tell them, if you want to defend your jobs, pensions and conditions, prepare for industrial action.'
To loud applause, Ward finished with a rallying call for action, telling the Tories that CWU will “fight you every inch of the way.”
Labour MP Jack Dromey also caught the mood of the meeting as he said, “I pay tribute to your achievements. And, I tell you, postal workers are loved and the service you provide is also loved.
“Are you going to take the threat of privatisation lying down? The hell you are!”
At the end of the rally, around 400 workers followed CWU leaders and launched an impromptu blocking of the road outside the government’s department for business. Some 45 minutes later they were still there, despite police pleading with them to disperse.
Soon chants of “Royal Mail not for sale” were followed by slogans used by students who had demonstrated just meters away a few days earlier. Cries of “Whose streets? Our streets!” filled the air.
The crowd eventually dispersed to lobby their MPs. But it is clear that the spirit of militancy that has characterised CWU members in the past is far from extinguished.
If the union’s leadership are serious about galvanising it for strikes next year, the coalition could face one of its most serious battles yet.