Royal Mail’s top boss has suggested that the company could retreat over attacks on workers’ pay, pensions and conditions.
But the leaders of the postal workers’ CWU union have rightly said there could still be strikes if they don’t get an acceptable agreement.
Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene said bosses could move their position to get an agreement, CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger revealed last week.
Speaking to a national gathering of CWU union reps last Thursday, Pullinger said Greene told him during a five-hour meeting that she wanted a deal. But bosses have so far shown no sign of abandoning a major assault on postal workers.
They’re trying to push through changes to pensions that could see some workers lose thousands of pounds.
They also want to slash pay and introduce a new delivery model that could pave the way for huge cuts and a part time, casual workforce.
Pullinger told a rally that same day, “If there are no significant moves then this will be a fight to the end. This is being wrecked, this industry, over a long period. 1,000 cuts—a slow death to our members. We’re not going to put up with that—you bring it on.
“If that’s what they’re determined to do then I’d rather smash it to bits than hand it over to them to make all their money with it.”
He added, “We’re standing up for ourselves and we’re standing up for the public service. Believe me, we will be successful and we will make history.”
It came after Royal Mail bosses won a court injunction to stop postal workers from striking.
They will not beat us... This dispute is very much on unless we get an agreement.”John Hunt, Essex Amal branch
Workers had voted to strike by a massive 89 percent on a 73 percent turnout—and had been set to strike for 48 hours last week.
Bosses argued in court that an agreement signed by CWU leaders in 2013 stopped the union from calling national strikes without going through five weeks of external mediation.
Union activists told Socialist Worker that some postal workers wondered why union leaders hadn’t recognised the problem in the agreement.
But a march by hundreds of CWU members in central London last week showed workers are still angry—and still ready to strike.
Steve Clarke from CWU’s Eastern No 5 branch told Socialist Worker that the court ruling had made union members even angrier and that Royal Mail “have got a fight on their hands”.
And John Hunt from the Essex Amal branch said, “They will not beat us. It’s a setback, but all it’s done is postpone this dispute. This dispute is very much on unless we get an agreement.”
How to keep the dispute on track
The mediation means strikes could be delayed for at least another six weeks.
That means union activists have to work hard to keep the momentum behind the dispute going.
There should be more gate meetings at every Royal Mail workplace like the ones the union used to win the vote for strikes.
Union leaders can’t let bosses use the mediation to delay the strikes any further.
A strike in December could hit bosses hard. And any deal must:
- Guarantee a pension scheme for all workers in the industry, not just those who’ve worked there the longest.
- Give workers an above-inflation pay rise not linked to productivity deals.
- Guarantee that workers aren’t forced to change their hours to fit in with Royal Mail’s profit drive.
- Give workers a shorter working week—without loss of pay
A video of last week's central London protest: