Postal workers are fuming after Royal Mail bosses ran to the courts on Friday to try and block a national strike.
Top bosses have applied to the High Court for an injunction that would rule the CWU union’s thumping vote for strikes unlawful. Union members voted by 97 percent on a 76 percent turnout to strike in defence of their jobs and working conditions.
But bosses greeted them at work this morning with accusations that parts of the campaign to win the strike ballot were in breach of the law.
They also openly said they wanted to stop strikes in the-run up to next month’s general election and Christmas.
Their accusations centre on the fact that union officials encouraged members to vote “Yes” to strikes and organised to post ballot papers together. They also say that some workers picked up their ballot papers in their workplaces rather than wait for them to be delivered.
Royal Mail claims it wants to negotiate with the CWU. In reality going to the courts is a cynical attempt to stop some 110,000 postal workers using their right to strike.
Paul Garraway, a CWU rep in Oxford, told Socialist Worker, “Royal Mail are not sincere about wanting negotiations. They’re trying to undermine the democratic decision that our members have taken.”
And CWU general secretary Dave Ward said, “This is not about, as Royal Mail are trying to claim, that somehow they’re safeguarding the general election. This is about Royal Mail dong whatever it takes to use laws that put workers down to ensure that they can continue with their asset-stripping plans.
“These laws are not here to support workers. They’re here to put workers down. We’ll defend this action—make no mistake about that.”
He added that the bosses’ move would “backfire in a big way”.
“They have lost the confidence of the whole of the workforce,” he said. “They’re going to make our members more determined.”
CWU members are facing what union leaders call the “fight of our lives”. Royal Mail chief executive wants to break Royal Mail up into a profitable parcels delivery company, and a letters company that will be run down.
The plans will cause tens of thousands of job losses. Those left working in both companies will be on far worse terms and conditions.
The union looked set next week to announce dates for action, after a formal mediation process came to an end on Friday of this week. Yet now workers will have to wait for a High Court ruling on Tuesday of next week, which will decide whether they can lawfully strike.
Many workers and union reps were angry because they first heard the news from managers on Friday morning, or read about it in the press.
Bosses used a similar ploy to block strikes in a dispute in 2017. The union must be prepared to defy the law and strike anyway if the bosses get their way again.
Mark Dolan, a CWU rep in north London, told Socialist Worker, “This is an attempt not just to break up Royal Mail but to finish this union off.
“But Royal Mail can’t force through its strategy without the union and members agreeing to it. And the general election still puts massive pressure on them to get this sorted. If election material doesn’t get delivered there’ll be hell to pay.
“The reps and members are extremely angry about this. But we’re not going away.”