CWU union leaders held back calls for a more combative response to attacks from Post Office management at the annual conference last week. But, because delegates were furious about management's assaults, the union leaders had to make occasional signs of militancy. Deputy general secretary John Keggie ordered the expulsion of the Royal Mail observers from the hall in response to news that some delegates were facing disciplinary charges for attending the conference.
All 180,000 Royal Mail workers begin a strike ballot this week in defence of 7,000 workers the business wants to hive off into a new joint venture with the private sector.
CWU members at Romec, the cleaning and engineering function, are to be pushed into a partnership with Balfour Beatty. If the ballot led to action it would be a boost to the stalled campaign against privatisation and the threatened 30,000 job losses.
But the union leaders are still wedded to negotiation rather than confrontation-even though the lack of a fight is allowing bosses to get away with murder. Fortunately the pressure for resistance is growing. And the activists' willingness to become involved in wider political issues is going further than the union leaders want.