Socialist Worker

Three key issues face all Royal Mail workers

by a CWU member
Issue No. 1998

Royal Mail’s bosses have added pay to the issues that are causing confrontation with postal workers.

For several weeks management have insisted that knowledge of the size of this year’s pay offer should be restricted to union leaders.

But now the “secret” is out and, as everyone knew, it is a 2.9 percent rise.

The increase would apply to basic pensionable pay flowing through to weekday overtime rates only. It would not apply to other overtime payments or to other allowances.

In reality this means it is worth much less than 2.9 percent.

The offer also includes a form of words that begin to set out parameters for further negotiations.

These negotiations cover the bigger issues regarding the future of Royal Mail such as mechanisation, new ways of working, flexibility and so on.

But the union is unhappy with this framework and wants to be able to revisit pay prior to April 2007 – the next pay deal – as part of these discussions.

The offer does not include any details of the level of projected savings from the recent “efficiency agreement”. Half of these savings should be available for pay – and at the same time thousands of jobs will go.

The CWU union postal executive rightly rejected the offer last week and a national briefing was to be held this week for wider discussion around the issue.

So we now have:

  • A national consultative ballot about to begin on whether we accept the bosses’ agenda of privatisation, liberalisation and cuts or are prepared to campaign for secure and well-paid full time employment in a 100 percent publicly owned service.
  • A decision expected soon on whether the government will back a 20 percent share handout to the workforce – a privatisation strategy.
  • The pay dispute.

All these issues are linked, and the resistance has to be linked. Specifically, we should not accept the argument that the only way to get decent pay is to allow mass job losses and casualisation of parts of the industry.

Across Britain postal workers presently get on average £311.50 a week before tax and national insurance deductions. And of course this is based on unsocial hours and overtime.

The union has announced we should raise this average to the average of all workers, some £80 a week more. Nobody expects this to be achieved in one year, but a hard fight, without job losses, is needed.

The last time the union had a strike ballot over pay it was a failure due to some sections of the union not getting behind the campaign. We must not allow that to happen again.

Campaigning and the Labour Party meeting

Around 100 CWU union members met last week for a discussion on campaigning activity and the Labour Party.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said the day was “designed to strengthen the CWU’s work inside the party and to promote its role of ‘critical engagement’.”

Those attending were nearly all committed Labour members, and the tactics of involvement with Labour rather than the principle were up for discussion.

Nevertheless there was forthright criticism of Labour from several of those present (see Labour councillor denounces the policies that make his battle harder for example).

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Article information

Sat 29 Apr 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1998
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