PRESSURE FROM below has pushed the leaders of the Communication Workers Union to call a strike ballot over the privatisation of Romec, the Post Office's cleaning and buildings maintenance section. In just over two weeks time, on 27 August, all 180,000 postal workers will begin a strike vote.
It will cover Royal Mail, Parcelforce and high street Post Office staff. Management wants to transfer Romec into a joint venture with Balfour Beatty. If 7,000 Romec workers are handed over to private management, how long before tens of thousands of others go the same way? CWU general secretary Billy Hayes says:
'If this joint venture goes ahead loyal and typically long-serving employees will have their pensions threatened, their job security put at risk and their trade union representation put in jeopardy. It amounts to a charter for employers to side step agreements they have reached with trade unions.'
Resistance against the Romec joint venture can be a big step towards throwing back the privatisation offensive by Post Office bosses. For too long CWU leaders have hesitated to start real resistance to the bosses' and government's programme. Now is a chance to fight alongside others as a new mood of resistance sweeps through the public sector.
The firefighters' union is holding a special conference on 12 September-the date the post workers' ballot result is due to be announced. For the last few years postal workers have taken the lead in using strikes to defend their conditions and union organisation. It would be tragic if, just when other people start to hit back, they run away from the battlefield.
Every CWU member should throw themselves into getting the biggest possible yes vote for strikes and then push the union leaders to call immediate, effective action to stop privatisation in its tracks.