A NATIONAL lobby of parliament by around 1,000 post workers was scheduled to take place this week. It came as heated arguments split the union's leadership over the response to the Post Office's announcement of mass job losses. The CWU union's top leaders support a deal to accept up to 30,000 job cuts as long as they are 'voluntary'.
According to documents discussed last week, workers who have been with the Post Office for less than five years would be offered redundancy money of two weeks pay for every year they have worked. That would be as little as £2,000 for someone who has done four years. Staff over 50 years old could get up to four weeks pay for every year worked and access to an early pension. That's around £10,000 for someone who has worked continuously in the post since 1990.
Quite rightly, some on the union's postal executive do not want to accept the deal. However, most are not confronting the issue of job losses head-on. Instead they are demanding a better pay settlement this year before there is any progress on the jobs issue. In addition, the Post Office says it cannot guarantee there will not be compulsory redundancies. All of this meant that the union leaders did not put the deal to a vote last week at the executive, because they would have lost.
They planned to bring it back again this week with a few amendments. It is still totally unacceptable. The CWU should have nothing to do with helping management make huge job cuts. The result will be much harder work for those who remain, a worse service, and opening the door wider to privatisation.
If the union leaders are serious about protecting the service and workforce they have to challenge the whole logic of cutting jobs to boost Post Office profits. The CWU released research this week featuring a poll that shows 89 percent of people would pay 2p extra for a stamp if it would save jobs and make the post more reliable. The government is rumoured to be in favour of a 1p increase plus the job cuts. The union wants the 2p rise, but is not calling real action to get it, and the leadership seems happy to sanction the jobs going.
Activists must demand that there is an effective fight against job losses and privatisation. It will take strikes to get real movement from bosses and ministers.