LEADERS OF the CWU postal workers' union have called off a strike planned for this week. They claim they have achieved a 'major victory' over pay. In fact they have surrendered to Royal Mail bosses' and threaten to weaken workers' ability to fight in the future. It is important that activists throw themselves into defeating the proposed deal in the forthcoming ballot.
Three months ago 145,000 Royal Mail workers voted two to one for strikes over a 2 percent pay offer. The union was demanding 5 percent for this year. Instead of calling strikes the union leaders plunged back into more talks, while the bosses announced mass job losses and more links with the private sector.
Then management offered 4.5 percent over two years, plus a further 2.2 percent if workers accepted punishing new delivery arrangements. The union threatened a strike over the delivery plans being linked to the pay offer.
So the employers took a step back, took the delivery arrangements out of the deal, and then suckered the union leaders into seizing essentially the same pay deal that had led to the strike vote in the first place. Workers will get a 2.2 percent rise backdated to October 2001 and a further 2.3 percent from 15 October this year. What happened to the demand for a 5 percent rise for this year alone?
What happened to the target of £300 a week basic by October 2003? On the basis of the present deal many postal workers will be on a basic of around £262 a week by October 2003. In addition none of the delivery plans have been shelved-they have just been hived off to separate negotiations. Not one of the management's privatisation, outsourcing or job cutting plans has been ditched.
While the union leaders hesitate and retreat from action, the government is gearing up for more attacks. John Roberts, the £205,000 a year chief executive of the Post Office, is getting the push for not being ruthless enough.
In another assault, the postal regulator is preparing to license a new round of competitors, including some that are openly touting to be scab mail services in the event of strikes.
The CWU leaders are offering a completely inadequate response to the scale of the challenge that faces postal workers. That is why activists have to organise now to throw out the pay deal. They should demand there is action over pay and all the other issues that are threatening the future of every postal worker.
LONDON POSTAL workers last week moved a stage closer to a strike over the treatment of the Doherty brothers. The London Divisional Committee has called on union headquarters to serve management with seven days notice of an all-London strike ballot.
The CWU is also planning a demonstration outside Post Office headquarters over this issue.
The new issue of Post Worker, the rank and file newspaper, leads on the pay deal. For copies phone 07904 157 779.