Postal workers in Royal Mail could soon walk out for their first national strike since 2009.
Their CWU union was expected to announce a ballot as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.
Workers have been gearing up for a big battle ever since Royal Mail bosses announced an attack on pensions that could cost workers thousands of pounds.
CWU activists met in central London on Monday of this week for a national briefing to discuss the coming battle.
The union’s postal executive committee met the following day—with many activists strongly expecting them to officially announce a ballot.
Large workplace meetings of CWU members at Royal Mail offices across Britain have shown the strength of the union’s organisation.
And a series of unofficial walkouts over the past few months have shown that workers are raring to get out of the door.
Last week alone saw two unofficial strikes at offices in Hartlepool, in County Durham, and Grays, in Essex. CWU members at Grays walked out for six hours last Thursday in defence of a worker who faced the sack.
It was their second unofficial walkout this year.
And workers in Hartlepool walked out for half an hour the previous Tuesday morning.
They said managers had tried to pressure someone on sick leave back to work.
Hartlepool CWU branch secretary Peter Hall told Socialist Worker that tensions are rising. “Royal Mail is supposedly a caring employer,” he said.
“But with the dispute coming they’re starting to bully people. People are getting a little bit edgy. The feeling’s quite high, and it’s not just in Hartlepool.”
He added, “We’ve had about seven or eight gate meetings and district meetings. All the meetings have been unbelievably well attended.
“If it was just about pay, you would maybe get 20-30 people at a meeting. We’ve had about 80 people at some gate meetings, which is something I’ve never seen. That tells you the feeling.”
Under pressure, Royal Mail has backed away from other planned attacks, including cuts to sick pay and bonus payments.
But bosses have kept their plans to replace workers’ defined benefit pension scheme with one that leaves yearly pensions at the whims of the market.
If the ballot goes ahead it will be the first national strike ballot under new Tory union law. It dictates that 50 percent of all eligible members vote in the ballot.
Union activists have to make sure to deliver a result to beat the thresholds. And a strong vote for strikes has to be followed up with equally strong action.