POSTAL WORKERS across Britain in the Cash Handling and Distribution (CHD) section start a strike ballot next week. The Post Office wants to sell CHD to Securicor, a full privatisation that will affect 3,000 workers.
The entire postal membership will start voting over the same issue on 12 November, with the result on 26 November. The decision to sell CHD is a defining moment in the union's fight against privatisation. If they get away with it this time, what will be next? Our leaders in the CWU are quite correct to call a strike ballot. But that is not enough.
They must not be allowed to make the same mistakes as happened in the campaign to fight the Romec (cleaning and maintenance section) joint venture. The strategy of concentrating demands purely on the terms and conditions of the Romec members was at best naive, and at worst duplicitous. When the employer broadly conceded these demands there was nothing left to fight over.
Instead of retaining Romec fully within the public domain, the result of this flawed strategy is that profits generated by Romec now flow into the pockets of Balfour Beatty.
I am fearful that the same strategy has been adopted for the defence of CHD. It appears that the CWU have decided that the best 'way forward' is to demand that no employee of CHD should be transferred to Securicor against their will. What if the employer gives in to this demand? Will the CWU stand aside and let Securicor acquire the CHD business?
All CWU members, be they NEC or rank and file, must demand that the union will fight this latest privatisation with ALL means at its disposal, including strikes. I'd urge all CWU activists to:
Get motions passed through branch, divisional and regional committees, and forward them to the general secretary.
Convene workplace meetings to explain the issues to our members and ensure a yes vote for strike action.
Fran Choules, CWU rep, Exeter (personal capacity)
THE IMPORTANCE of the struggle against postal privatisation was underlined last week when bosses unveiled plans to sell off another section. The Post Office says it has chosen Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) as its preferred bidder for a ten-year contract to supply IT services to the group. Around 2,000 workers will see their jobs privatised under the deal.
CSC is a US company that has many links with military contracts. It has deals worth over $800 million with the US military to provide IT services in support of 'missile defence and other space-related missions'.
It also won a multimillion US navy order to help 'provide a faster, more robust supply line to expeditionary US forces'. CSC has also penetrated the NHS with a seven-year $60 million information technology contract.