Socialist Worker

Victory for Belfast post workers

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 1988

United post workers marching in Belfast (Pic: Guy Smallman)

United post workers marching in Belfast (Pic: Guy Smallman)

“It's a complete climbdown, a total capitulation, we’ve won!” Speaking surrounded by cheering mates, a Belfast postal worker told Socialist Worker on Friday afternoon that the 18 days of inspiring struggle had forced Royal Mail to concede practically all their demands.

The strikers have won:

  • An independent review of employee relations and industrial relations in Belfast. Royal Mail has guaranteed that there will be no interference in the process or the outcome.

    This was the modest but crucial demand that was at the centre of the dispute. It was the response to a long period of bullying and harassment

  • A pledge of no victimisations against the workers involved in the dispute or their officials. The only contested issue is that of branch secretary Eoin Davey, who is not recognised as an employee by Royal Mail. Management have not closed their case against him, but union members have made it clear they will not allow him to be bullied.

The Belfast workers’ strike was repudiated by the CWU union, but it has won a great victory for every postal worker. It has shown how to stand up to bullying bosses and to beat back management’s attacks.

John Farnan, a member of the CWU’s national executive and one of those involved in the Belfast negotiations, told Socialist Worker, “The union said from the start that the strike should end. However, it also said that the issues which had caused it should be addressed. Justice has now been done.”

More than that, the strike has given a huge boost to the workers’ movement in Northern Ireland. It has lit a beacon of hope by showing that Catholic and Protestant workers can unite and fight for their common interests.

This has been a historic dispute. For the first time since 1932 workers marched up the Shankill and down the Falls.

Royal Mail has lost this round. The lessons of Belfast are very important for the national battle to come.

Solidarity with Belfast was crucial to winning this dispute. Now postal workers must demand a national ballot over the stream of assaults on agreements in the local offices launched by management.

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Article information

Sat 18 Feb 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1988
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