Socialist Worker

Postal workers tell bosses ‘we will not be moved’

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2682

Postal workers at a gate meeting in Tuffnell Park

Postal workers at a gate meeting in Tuffnell Park (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Thousands of postal workers gathered outside their workplaces on Friday to tell Royal Mail bosses they won’t back down.

Members of the CWU union took part in a “national gate meetings day”, just over a week after top management used a high court order to block national strikes. Their message to managers was “we will not be moved”.

Speaking to a meeting at the North London Delivery Centre, CWU rep Mark Dolan said, “We aren’t going away.

The CWU is appealing against the high court ruling, which said its ballot for strikes was unlawful.

Some 81,000 postal workers voted to strike to defend their jobs and working conditions—a vote of 97 percent on a 76 percent turnout.

Yet high court judge Jonathan Swift, formerly one of the government’s chief law officers, sided with bosses to block action. He said the vote was unlawful because the union’s high profile campaign to win the strike vote had created “a de facto workplace ballot”.

Election

Swift also said the coming general election was a factor in his decision.

One postal worker in the delivery centre told Socialist Worker that “everyone at work was saying it was a joke,” when the ruling was made.

“You take a vote so you can stand up for yourselves, and then they tell you that you can’t,” she said.

The high court is set to hear the CWU’s appeal next week. The union says it could ballot members again if the appeal fails.

CWU deputy general secretary (postal) Terry Pullinger also wrote to Royal Mail managers saying the union would enter talks so long as certain conditions were met.

These included dropping imminent plans to transfer Parcelforce workers over to a new company, and standing down agency workers recruited to clear backlogs from strikes.

Yet Royal Mail’s chief executive Rico Back replied he would only accept negotiations “without pre-conditions”.

Back is facing pressure from Royal Mail’s shareholders to push ahead with his attacks. He took over as chief executive with a plan to break up Royal Mail into a parcels company run for profit, and a separate letters company that will be run down.

That would mean tens of thousands of job losses, and worse conditions for workers.

Yet Royal Mail’s shares crashed by 17 percent yesterday as Back admitted his plans were “behind schedule”.

A strike ballot by Parcelforce workers was not affected by the high court ruling—and they could still strike against the transfer. They should be called out on strike, and CWU members in Royal Mail re-balloted as soon as possible.

Royal Mail bosses are also apparently worried that the use of agency workers could provoke anger if they’re seen to take work away from the regular workforce.

Mark told the north London gate meeting, “Royal Mail are very nervous. They will do almost anything they can to make sure that there aren’t any issues around agency workers.

“If there was unofficial action they know the consequences of that—that it will disrupt the general election.

“What we’ve done today sends a massive signal back that this dispute is a long way from being resolved.”


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