Socialist Worker

Threat of strikes in Royal Mail after CWU conference votes for possible ballot

by Nick Clark in Bournemouth
Issue No. 2551

Delegates voting at the CWU unions annual conference

Delegates voting at the CWU union's annual conference (Pic: Socialist Worker)


CWU union members across Britain could ballot in August for strikes following a debate at their annual postal conference in Bournemouth on Tuesday.

Conference delegates passed a motion threatening strikes if bosses refuse to back off from a barrage of attacks.

These include plans to rob thousands of pounds from pensions, cut pay supplements, erode conditions and get rid of crucial union rep positions.

Debate on the motion was held behind closed doors to protect delegates from being targeted by bosses.

But speaking to Socialist Worker, CWU rep Paul Garraway from Oxford said, “Everything is up for grabs.

“It’s like Royal Mail have a Christmas wish list. If you went to Royal Mail and said, what do you want? That’s what they’ve said they want to take.”

Moves to replace workers’ defined benefits pension scheme with a worse defined contribution scheme would take thousands of pounds from some 90,000 workers’ pensions.

The CWU has said it could cost some workers almost £4,500 a year—more than £100,000 over the course of retirement.

Backbone

Bosses also want to get rid of the union’s area reps, which are the backbone of CWU’s regional organisation. And they want to sack workers over attendance more easily, introduce worse terms and conditions for new starters, and cut sick pay and payments for extra duties.

It’s all about making Royal Mail more “competitive”.

Paul said, “It’s how Royal Mail has responded to privatisation. It’s in competition with others, so it’s a race to the bottom for our pay and conditions.”

And CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger told conference, “Royal Mail see the only way to make profits is to attack our members.”

The motion passed “rejected” bosses’ plans. It instructed the union’s postal executive committee to “consider all means available” to carry the fight forward “up to and not excluding a national industrial action ballot”.

It also instructed the executive to launch an immediate ballot if bosses impose any of the attacks.

There was a clear mood for action among delegates. And occasional unofficial walkouts over the past two years have shown Royal Mail workers can strike when provoked.

Just this week postal workers in Kilmarnock, Scotland, staged an unofficial walkout, Pullinger told conference.

Paul said, “The next step is for reps to take the CWU’s Four Pillars of Security petition around their workplaces.

“We’ve got to get out and raise the discussions. We need to create an atmosphere for a fight.”


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