THIS LOOKED like being a very important week for postal workers in south west England. We were coming under intense pressure to deliver election material for the British National Party. But many of us are totally opposed to handling their filth.
The leaflets were expected to come into the delivery offices towards the end of this week. By Monday large numbers of postal workers had filled in forms saying they did not want to deliver BNP material. We are looking for full backing from the union at every level on the contents of the national agreement. And I am confident this will be forthcoming. Royal Mail may be taking disciplinary action against me. We were also expecting the BNP to go to court to challenge any non-delivery and also the conscience clause agreement between the CWU and Royal Mail.
This agreement has its weaknesses, but it does say clearly that postal workers can refuse delivery of BNP material on any of three grounds-personal circumstances, beliefs or where safety is threatened.
At local level Royal Mail mangers are interpreting this in an incredibly narrow way. They are saying that the only justifiable reason is where you fear attack from ethnic minorities, and that if you are delivering to a white area then there's no reason not to put out the stuff.
That's not acceptable. You can be against fascism whatever your ethnicity and wherever you are asked to deliver. It's a matter of humanity, decency and principle. It is rank hypocrisy for the BNP to go to court and to make arguments based on universal democratic values and their right to be treated like everyone else.We know they hold such values in contempt. They are seeking to use democracy in order to destroy democracy.
The campaign against the BNP in the south west began some three months ago when we had a very good discussion at the union's regional committee about the threat posed by the BNP. We talked about how the BNP is trying to appear a mainstream, respectable party but still retains all the old fascist and racist views.
The general public should understand that if the BNP achieved power in Britain, locally or nationally, all other democratic political parties, as well as all trade unions, would be banned within months, as happened in Germany in 1933. There are clear personal and fascist party links between the current BNP leader Griffin, his predecessor John Tyndall, and the 1930s fascist leader Oswald Mosley.
British trade unions have a proud history of opposing British Nazis, fascists and racists. Thousands of British trade unionists died fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. The current struggle is to expose the BNP for the fascists they are, and to defeat them.
As officials of the postal workers' union we felt we had to make people aware of their rights to refuse to deliver BNP election material. This is what we have done, and I am proud of our record.
We are also asking members of the public to telephone their local delivery or sorting office to say you do not want BNP material delivered. Give local postal workers who are refusing to deliver BNP material all the support you can.
Shown below is the form which some postal workers in the south west have filled in. Other branches should make the same available to their members.
To my manager or CWU official
I am not prepared to handle/deliver fascist/racist material which is being circulated by the BNP in the 2004 elections. The BNP is a fascist and racist organisation, and to handle or deliver this material will be against my principles and beliefs.
Therefore I am carrying out my right, in accordance with the Conscience Clause negotiated by my union and agreed by the employer, not to deal with this fascist material. I would ask the employer to respect and honour my decision.
Oxford against bullies
OXFORD POSTAL workers are outraged about the way management have reacted in the wake of the recent strike over bullying and thuggery. Disgracefully a mail centre manager gave statements from victims of bullying to the alleged perpetrators. They are now terrified for their future.
In addition, Royal Mail has started disciplinary procedures against two people whose complaints were central to the dispute. One stands charged with gross misconduct, a sacking offence. The other is accused of making a malicious charge.
Bob Cullen, the CWU union's main negotiator in the mail centre, is also now facing disciplinary action. The alleged thugs have been transferred to a special workplace where they are being paid for 60 hours a week even though they were contracted to work only one day a week.
Bob Cullen told Socialist Worker, "We held a mass meeting on Sunday, and members were incensed by what has happened. They gave union officials the authority to apply for an industrial action ballot if management continue to make outrageous decisions."