Socialist Worker

Postal workers make a date to join the fight against privatisation

by Martin Walsh, CWU London divisional rep
Issue No. 1963

The future of the Post Office as a viable public service will be decided in the next few months.

We face the double whammy of Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton’s back door privatisation agenda and the Postcomm regulator’s decision to thrust ahead with the opening up of the postal market three years ahead of the rest of Europe.

It is clear that if either of these plans goes ahead then the Post Office will be an industry in decline, resulting in thousands of job losses and threatening accessible, affordable, universal services.

There has never been a more important time for the Communications Workers Union (CWU) to unite to force the Labour government to honour its manifesto commitment and to rein in Postcomm’s plans.

The individual who will decide the fate of the Post Office is Alan Johnson, the former general secretary of the post workers’ union which defeated Tory plans for the privatisation of the Post Office in 1994.

Eleven years later he is saying he believes in some sort of employee share sale.

The CWU has to start putting the pressure on Labour, to whom it contributed £673,523 in 2004.

The CWU’s relationship with the Labour Party is on trial. Unless the Labour government rejects privatisation, including the employee share ownership, and stops Postcomm’s insane and failed ideas then the calls for disaffiliation will become louder and stronger.

The fact is privatisation and competition will lead to the following:

  • Massive job cuts and more casualisation.
  • An end to annual pay increases and their replacement with one-off, unconsolidated bonuses.
  • Threats to the universal postal service — the one price goes anywhere principle.
  • More directly managed crown offices and sub post offices will close.
  • Threats to Royal Mail’s final salary pension scheme and the option to retire at 60.
  • Foreign postal operators will get access to UK markets while Royal Mail will be denied the same opportunity overseas.
  • Postcomm will be able to rig the market in favour of private postal firms.
  • Private postal operators will cherry pick the most profitable part of Royal Mail’s business.
  • Royal Mail’s revenue will shrink, but it will still bear the cost of a universal service.

Some branches, divisions and regions are crying out for a national campaign led by CWU headquarters. Sadly, other than a well researched document, there has been little urgency shown in campaigning.

Indeed, the only initiatives which have been launched are by different divisions and regions.

September is a pivotal month for the campaign, with the Labour Party and TUC conferences and Postcomm’s decision in early October on pricing. It is essential the CWU kick-starts the campaign.

It is against this background that branches in all regions of the country have been invited to sponsor a meeting at Friends Meeting House in London on 7 September.

The Labour majority in the House of Commons should allow the CWU to defeat these plans, but we have to start punching our weight as a political organisation.

We also have to start campaigning amongst the membership.

The CWU is at its strongest when it is united. This campaign is national and all meetings should be supported by all regions.

We look forward to seeing activists from all parts of Britain at the rally.

National rally against post privatisation

Wednesday 7 September, 2pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London.
Speakers Billy Hayes (CWU), Bob Crow (RMT), Mark Serwotka (PCS), Matt Wrack (FBU), Dave Ward (CWU), Lord Clarke of Hampstead, John Grogan MP, Dot Gibson (National Pensioners Convention)


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News
Sat 13 Aug 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1963
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