Socialist Worker

CWU union’s damaging deal with Royal Mail is a blow that strikes could have stopped

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2390

Post workers in the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) have accepted an agreement reached with Royal Mail bosses.

Some 94.5 percent accepted the deal on a 57 percent turnout.

The deal says workers have five years’ protection on pay and job security, and a 9.06 percent pay deal over three years.

But the deal is hugely damaging for the union. 

Royal Mail can withdraw from it under “exceptional circumstances”, such as a national strike. 

The agreement—to be reviewed in 2019—is effectively a no-strike deal for five years. Signing away the ability to strike is debilitating for a union. 

The threat of a national strike forced Royal Mail to the table.

Oxford post worker Paul Garraway told Socialist Worker, “There wasn’t even a real fight from the union to stop privatisation from happening.” 

Workers were willing to take on the bosses but the union called off the strike.

Officials were then locked in talks with bosses for weeks as the moment to hit hard during the Christmas period approached.

When the union finally announced the details of the deal over a month later the momentum had ebbed away.

Some 88,000 workers didn’t even vote to accept or reject the deal.

Some CWU members feel it doesn’t address the problem of outsourcing. 

And problems in deliveries remain an outstanding issue. Allegations of bullying management were already rife. 

The agreement talks of “building a climate of sustainable trust with a can do culture” and “improving efficiency”. 

This means increased workloads, and more bullying and harassment by managers.

The deal is a real setback for post workers as the ability to call a national strike has been removed.

Paul said, “Although we have the three year pay increase, they’ll just come back for that. 

“Royal Mail will have the confidence to go full on for privatisation now.” 

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