Post Office workers rallied outside parliament yesterday (Pic: Socialist Worker)
As many as 4,000 Post Office workers struck across Britain yesterday, Thursday, against attacks on their jobs and pensions.
union members at crown Post Offices and the admin and supply chain sector are fighting bosses’ plans to close offices, cut jobs and slash pensions.
Post Office bosses say the attacks are needed because of reduced funding from government. But really it’s all part of a scheme to run the Post Office down and sell if off piecemeal to private companies.
Mark Worthington, a CWU rep in Manchester said, “This is another attack on working conditions. We’re facing massive redundancies and franchising—i.e. privatisation.
“The Post Office belongs to you and me. There’s enough money. But the executive board is given a remit to tear it apart.”
Bosses want to close down more than 100 crown branches and outsource them to companies such as WHSmith. They also plan cuts to admin, supply chain and cash handling services.
Some 2,000 jobs could be lost as a result. And the privatisation could lead to attacks on workers’ terms and conditions, as well as damaging the union’s strength.
CWU member Phil said, “Everything the previous generation has fought for, new young workers will lose—decent pay, pensions.
“They’ll be in part time jobs in WHSmith on minimum wage, no decent pension and no union recognition”.
Post office workers also face an attack on their pensions. Bosses want to close the current defined benefit scheme and a replace it with a worse defined contribution scheme. The move could cost workers thousands of pounds.
This is a moment when we have to take this fight on and link our industrial and political agenda.
Dave Ward, CWU general secretary
Mole Meade, a CWU rep in south London told Socialist Worker, “The attack on pensions is going to affect me to the tune of about 45 percent off my annual payments, and about 30-35 percent on my lump sum at the end of my working life.
“And that will be replicated across the country to all other members of the pension scheme.”
He added, “The Post Office want to say, we’re making a profit—making a profit off the backs of all the poor people they’ve got rid of, or cut their pension.”
Strikers and supporters in London rallied outside parliament before moving on to a meeting nearby to talk about the campaign.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said there needed to be a political campaign to save the Post Office.
He said, “This is a moment when we have to take this fight on and link our industrial and political agenda.
“The campaign is going to carry on. We will look at doing things differently in this campaign. A number of people have suggested to me occupying offices. We’re not going to discourage that.”
He added that there would need to be more industrial action but, “We’re not going to strike them into submission. We have got to work hard to bring about a very different type of campaign”.
CWU deputy general secretary Tony Kearns agreed the fight had to be political. He said, “This is a fight for our members’ terms and conditions. But it’s also a fight in our wider society.
“It’s part of an attempt to drive down terms and conditions for workers in this country”.
He added, “There’s a showdown coming. When we come under attack, we have no option but to fight”.
It’s right that the attacks in the Post Office are part of a bigger attack on workers in the public and private sectors.
But the scale of the attacks in the Post Office won’t be stopped by political campaigning alone.
A campaign that links up with other struggles such as the junior doctors—and that has industrial action at the heart of it—could inspire other workers to fight back.