THE POST WORKER, a rank and file paper for postal workers, is holding a national meeting to discuss how to fight privatisation and other attacks. The meeting is very timely. New Labour ministers and Post Office managers are continuing with their agenda of more privatisation moves in the post.
The postal regulator has already declared that he is "minded" to grant licences to a private firm, Hays, to compete with Royal Mail. Doug Alexander, the department for Trade and Industry minister, says he wants to speed up the pace at which private firms are getting involved.
The union's response has been lacklustre. As part of the drive for more profits, management recently announced a major assault on sick pay. The union's deputy general secretary, John Keggie, promised a national strike ballot.
But all talk of strike action has been dropped while talks go on. With tens of thousands of jobs at stake, rank and file workers need to take charge of the direction of the union's anti-privatisation strategy. Post Worker has become a popular paper linking together a network of militants involved in resistance on the ground. This is a good chance to build further on that.
There will also be an opportunity to discuss organisation around the coming CWU special conference.
- "Which Way Forward for the CWU?" Saturday 8 September, 2pm, Room 3a, University of London Union, Malet Street. London. Speakers (all in a personal capacity) include Mark Serwotka (PCS general secretary elect), Peter Boswell (Oxfordshire Postal CWU), Derek Durkin (Scotland No 2 CWU), Chris Tapper (div rep sub SE Wales), Jane Loftus, (Merseyside Amal CWU). All CWU members welcome.
PARCELFORCE bosses are pushing to outsource half of the business's collection and delivery routes. The management of the Post Office's parcel arm has put forward a "mixed resourcing" plan.
This means the workforce would be made up of directly employed workers, subcontractors, owner-drivers and agency and casual staff. The scheme is being held up by management as the only alternative to closure of the business within two years. Parcelforce workers are angry that many of them would be expected to turn themselves into owner-drivers.
"We will become our own bosses, pushing ourselves to work harder and harder just to earn a basic wage," says one London driver. "We would also have to bear the cost of things like insurance-which is horrendous."
Mixed resourcing represents a clear move to privatisation. But the CWU union is offering only token opposition at this stage.
Assistant secretary Terry Pullinger says, "Reforms are required to bring the business back into profitability" and only seek to "limit the amount of outsourcing". A motion passed, with executive support, at the last union annual conference opened the door to mixed resourcing.
But that is no excuse to accept an agreement that will destroy jobs and conditions. Parcelforce workers must demand a much more robust response to management.