Socialist Worker

What a victory in Bridgwater

Issue No. 1825

WE'VE WON a brilliant victory in Bridgwater, Somerset, after a seven-day unofficial strike. Around 130 of us walked out for a shorter working week, for overtime rates when we cover for workers in emergencies, and for an end to management bullying and harassment.

Well, we are getting the working week very soon, we have the right to overtime in writing (I think this is the first time it has actually been put down in black and white anywhere), and we have given management a good stuffing that will push back the bullying.

We won for three big reasons. The first is that the workforce were really united, with a great determination to hold out for our rights. The picketing involved practically everyone, with 50 of us on the line at a time. The second reason is that it was an all-out indefinite strike. It wasn't just one day out and then back in to let management recover. The third reason is that we got massive support from other people. There was a critical moment during negotiations last week when Royal Mail were about to go for an injunction against some of us in an effort to smash the strike.

At around the same time we heard that postal workers in Bristol were about to stop work in solidarity with us. We hadn't asked them to stop - honestly! They just did it off their own back. I'm sure it tipped the balance. We also got backing from firefighters (who came to the picket line) and local people.

Our victory is a big step forwards for everyone. It is therefore sad to record that the national union officials were useless, if not directly unhelpful. We got a call every day telling us to get back to work and that we weren't going to win.

The CWU should be shouting our victory from the rooftops, but you will look in vain for any mention of it on the union's website, which normally covers everything. I hope the officials aren't ashamed of us because we won through 'old fashioned' methods.

It's possible that managers may move to discipline Dave Chapple, our union rep, after this dispute. If they do then we need the active support and solidarity of postal workers across Britain.
Postal worker


POSTAL workers across Britain in the Cash Handling and Distribution (CHD) section continue their strike ballot this week The Post Office wants to sell CHD to Securicor, a full privatisation that will affect 3,000 workers.

The entire postal membership is poised to start voting over the same issue on 12 November, with the result on 26 November. CHD has major depots in Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Swansea, Newport, Dartford, Glasgow, Belfast, Manchester, Newcastle, Preston, south London, east London and Sheffield.


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News
Sat 9 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1825
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