Post Office workers stepped up their fight against closures, privatisation, job losses and pension attacks with the start of a five day strike today, Monday.
But their CWU union has warned that bosses plan to announce more attacks in January.
Post Office bosses had to admit that some 50 offices around Britain were closed by the strike today. And many more of the 300 offices affected were kept open with managers filling in for 3,000 workers the CWU claimed were on strike.
CWU rep Mole Meade told Socialist Worker that the strike had gone “very well”. He said the workers were “not happy” about having to strike for five days, “but they understand why it needs to be done.”
He added, “They’re fighting to defend a 500 year old service. They’re trying to make sure that the public understand that we’re being attacked on a level you wouldn’t believe”.
The strikers have been fighting since September against plans to close hundreds of high street crown post offices, which are directly owned by the government.
Bosses want to force through piecemeal privatisation of the Post Office, replacing the closed offices with franchised counters outsourced to retailers such as WHSmith.
The strikers also rallied outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in central London this morning.
They pointed out that the Tory ministers in the department were the ones responsible for the selloffs.
The Tories have slashed funding for the Post Office and have pushed a programme of privatisation through closures and job cuts for years.
Playing to a Christmas theme, CWU members delivered 70,000 cards supporting the strikers to the department in sacks, accompanied by two reindeer and a Santa Clause.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said, “It’s important that people realise that the government still owns the Post Office.
“They are sitting behind the company in pushing forward their plans for closures and franchising of high street post offices”.
Hundreds of workers could lose their jobs if the closures go through. Workers in the new franchised offices are likely to be employed on worse wages and conditions.
The strikers also face an attack on their pensions—with bosses planning to replace the current defined benefit scheme with a worse defined contribution scheme.
The move would mean some workers could lose thousands of pounds from their pensions when they retire. But Post Office bosses have said the pensions attack is not up for negotiation.
Ward and deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger attacked bosses’ attitude to workers as “unacceptable” earlier this week.
A spokesperson for Theresa May said today that strikers had shown “contempt for ordinary people trying to go about their daily lives.”
But the attacks on workers’ jobs and pensions shows it is the Tories who hold working class people in contempt.
Pullinger said, “We have got no embarrassment whatsoever about standing up for our members in the Post Office. In fact we are extremely proud to do so.”
And Ward attacked the Tories and the bosses for refusing to negotiate over the closures. Speaking outside BEIS this morning, he said, “They are going to announce further high street closures in January.
“It’s going to prove that the people behind us are a sham”.