In a hostile act, Royal Mail has decided to impose on postal workers a pay offer already rejected by the CWU union. The imposition immediately follows the company's heavy-handed attempt to ban the union's consultative ballot on the future of the industry which includes a focus on higher basic pay.
The pay negotiations are part of a series of issues facing the future of Royal Mail and its workforce. Details of a recent efficiency saving deal – which offered cash in return for mass job cuts – are being withheld by the company.
A group of postal workers who are Socialist Worker supporters have issued the following statement as a leaflet:
The fight is on – at least from the bosses’ side.
The decision to impose the pay deal is not just about ramming low pay down our throats and trying to make us beg for efficiency savings cash. It’s also about breaking the CWU and its ability to stand up to bullying and management pressure.
Those offices where workers stopped for an hour when the news broke, or boycotted Work Time Learning and team briefings showed absolutely the right spirit.
Imposing 2.9 percent comes after the systematic attempt to block the consultative ballot. Democracy means nothing to Leighton and his cronies.
And just to make it worse, Royal Mail has been telling every journalist who will listen that it is about to announce the share issue – not the sharing in success bonus, the issue of shares in 20 percent of the business itself.
This is privatisation.
Is it now the time to fight? The union leaders say that “we are refusing to be pulled onto the punch today”, and worry that this may not be the ideal moment to launch a battle.
But when will be the right time? When the pay deal has been imposed for three months, the efficiency savings are less than expected, and thousands of jobs have gone?
When the shares have been issued and Royal Mail’s on the road to full privatisation?
Royal Mail’s top bosses may be bastards, but they are not all entirely stupid bastards.
They are not going to make life easy for the union by giving us three months’ notice of what they intend and then waiting while we get ourselves together to have a lengthy campaign before a ballot, and then a process of reflection afterwards.
Sometimes unions have to fight in conditions that aren’t perfect.
And if we do fight we’ll get a lot of support from other workers and the public. When 1.5 million local government workers struck on 28 March they got a lot of backing.
The only guarantee is that if we don’t fight now then we’re on the road to disaster much weaker union, privatisation and relentless competition from private firms, more part-timers and fewer full-time jobs, and pay based on gimmicky bonuses rather than decent increases in basic pensionable pay.
There is no reason why Leighton should be allowed to get away with his plans. The Blair government (which is his ultimate backer) is incredibly weak. Real resistance can force it to drop the shares plan.
We need an industrial and a political strategy. We have to fight and we have to stop shovelling money to a party and a government which is wrecking our lives. Labour takes our £500,000 a year – and kicks us in the teeth.
Every CWU member must push now for four things to happen:
- We need to start a strike ballot over pay, the way it has been imposed, and the share issue.
- We need to suspend money to Labour until the share issue is withdrawn.
- We need to make the CWU conference, which starts soon, a council of war and a launch pad for resistance.
- We need to sweep away the north/south divisions which have bedevilled the union. We need unity to fight, and in fighting we will rebuild the unity.