POSTAL WORKERS at a CWU union conference have given a sign of the deep anger about New Labour's policies. The best indication came when a member of the union executive attacked delegates for wanting "not only to take on the management but also the government as well". He was met by shouts of "Yes!" and loud cheers. The meeting, held on Sunday and Monday, was called to discuss the Post Office's "Shaping for Competitive Success" (SCS) programme.
This is designed to make the workforce more flexible, clear the way to taking on work from private companies and pave the way for privatisation. The union's deputy general secretary, John Keggie, wants to work with management to smooth its implementation. But delegates showed that they were fed up with privatisation. In a key speech, Moss Haley from south east London warned that taking on external contracts such as deliveries for Tesco's or Marks & Spencer meant that workers would be market-tested against low paying firms.
"We will be told, 'Take a pay rise and you'll lose your job'," he said. Delegates made it clear they were sickened by the number of jobs lost already in 15 of the 17 business units set up as part of SCS. The last two units are due to "go live" on 27 March and, much to the union leaders' anger, delegates demanded a series of guarantees. The executive argued it was useless to resist. But they were defeated, and delegates called for a strike ballot if the units were set up without full agreement.