LEE BARON in his letter in last week's Socialist Worker attempts to make an impassioned case that an increase in London weighting is somehow opening the door to regional pay. What he fails to mention is London weighting has existed in the Post Office since 1950. Indeed its introduction allowed the then Union of Postal Workers to bring in national pay bargaining.
Moreover, London weighting in the Post Office was up to 1994 negotiated outside the normal pay round and was voted on by the London membership. It is true that all postal workers deserve more pay. However, Lee misses the point. Our present leadership on the postal side of the union has failed to deliver on pay.
Indeed the union has surrendered the biggest mandate for industrial action that it has achieved on pay since 1971. The responsibility for this failure has to be levelled at deputy general secretary John Keggie, whose link with the Labour Party means he is reluctant to use the union's industrial muscle to confront the employer on pay. In addition, the leadership has failed to address London weighting or recruitment and retention.
This is despite the fact that members voted that these should have been addressed by March 2002. In the absence of the postal leadership addressing London weighting, all London branches will be consulting the membership on the issue. It is the biggest workplace consultation ballot since the Communication Workers Union was formed.
Lee also mentions that the 1988 Dras dispute was about protecting national pay bargaining. I, along with the rest of the London membership, supported the dispute. However, Lee fails to mention that the settlement actually introduces regional variations of pay.
Indeed, the then national negotiators insisted the deal introduced:
- An increase of 29 percent in inner London weighting.
- An increase of 73 percent in outer London weighting and extensions of the boundary.
- A written commitment to national pay rates.
National pay bargaining can best be defended when it ensures that its existing regional variations are at a suitable level. It will not survive if the union continues to ignore the plight of members in higher cost of living areas.
Martin Walsh, London divisional representative
POST WORKER In this issue: George Galloway, Billy Hayes and more. Available from 07904 157 779 or write to Post Worker, 109 Evelyn Court, Amhurst Road, London, E8 2BQ