THE POST Office is threatening to cut jobs done by its own staff and hand their work out to a private sector company. Management plans to form a partnership with the privatised Dutch post office and the carrier TNT to sort and ship millions of letters which are posted in Britain to addresses abroad.
The Guardian says that "discussions between Royal Mail and the Dutch post office are understood to be at an advanced stage. One insider claimed a draft agreement had been signed." As the Post Office prepares this privatisation, it also intends to shift 1,500 jobs away from the international mail section at the Mount Pleasant office in central London.
Leaders of the CWU postal workers' union claimed at the recent union conference that Labour was listening to them and that privatisation was not on the cards. This plan is a clear breach of any such guarantees. The union leaders should announce that unless this deal is scrapped there will be an immediate national strike. They should meet any attempt to move work or a single job out of Mount Pleasant with a strike.
The plan to axe work at Mount Pleasant is also a challenge to Ken Livingstone. Will he act to keep a large number of important jobs in the capital? At the CWU conference delegates voted to withdraw all financial and moral support from New Labour if the government privatised any part of the industry. Those delegates must be even more convinced they were right when they hear of these plans.
Workers at the NDO office in north London showed how to take on management last week. On Tuesday a health and safety issue saw one section stop work. Bosses said it was not a health and safety issue, and that the stoppage was therefore industrial action and illegal. Other workers then began to walk out as well.
Management retreated and suddenly decided it was in fact a health and safety question. The next day Royal Mail suspended a union rep. Virtually the entire office came to a standstill. Within an hour bosses had retreated and reinstated the rep.