Belfast is one battle in a growing conflict.
Dave Ward, the CWU union’s deputy general secretary postal, told a forum of 400 union reps last week, “We expect to face a request for a national industrial action ballot in the next few weeks about issues that are affecting offices across Britain.”
Another speaker said, “There has been a deluge of requests for industrial action ballots from branches in Merseyside, parts of London, Oxfordshire, Cornwall, Exeter, Plymouth, Somerset and West Wilts.
“These are just some of the many areas that are aflame with anger over the imposition of new contracts, full-time jobs being turned into part-time, job cuts, breaking national and local agreements—and more.”
Dundee’s east office struck last Saturday over such issues. Joe Malone, branch secretary of Scotland No 5 branch, which covers Dundee, told Socialist Worker, “The strike was 100 percent solid among CWU members. We are very determined and the anger with management has grown after they issued a ‘punishment decree’ after the strike. It says that they will be imposing a host of changes from 13 March.
“These include new start times, ‘longs and shorts’ (different length working days) and other unagreed measures.
“Another strike is planned for this Saturday. Our campaign is popular and has seen an increase in CWU membership.”
Nationally Royal Mail wants 40,000 job cuts and a two-tier workforce with a core of permanent workers and a big group of part-timers.
Bosses have resurrected plans for teamworking where “self-motivated” teams of eight or 15 would cover for each others’ sickness absence and holidays. They would compete for pathetic bribes.
As one worker put it at last week’s forum, “The people would be pondlife, brown noses and creeps. It would be an incentive to more bullying.”
The CWU stands in the way of such plans. Its members have blocked large elements of management assaults.
That is why bosses are trying to weaken it and sweep away agreements with the union. The CWU nationally and locally has repudiated the Belfast strike, but Royal Mail says officials have not gone far enough.
There is a possibility that it could take legal action against the union soon. If it does there must be a national post stoppage and support from other unions.
Confrontation cannot be indefinitely postponed if postal workers are to protect their conditions and move forward in the campaign to raise pay to the national average. Postal workers must prepare for battle. That means strengthening rank and file networks and stepping up the pressure for a fightback.