Socialist Worker

'Postal workers can win far more than this deal'

by a CWU member
Issue No. 2009

The CWU postal executive committee is suggesting acceptance of a new deal over pay and conditions. But it would be a mistake to end the campaign which has rocked Royal mail chairman Allan Leighton and forced him to back off from some of his attacks. 

The union has far from won over other key issues,

The result will be that we throw away the best chance postal workers have had in years to block the basic thrust of management’s attacks.

The pre-ballot campaign has been brilliant, one of the best any union has led anywhere. Anyone who attended the gate meetings could feel the readiness to fight.

Leighton was humiliated when his phoney consultation briefings in London and Birmingham ended in face, despite bullying and bribing people to go there.

He was on the back foot, knowing that he most probably faced a huge vote for action.

That’s why he had to concede that the “non-neogtiable” pay deal was suddenly very negotiable.

He had to consult and negotiate with the union he had wanted to  virtually derecognise.

But that was not the end of the matter. Management suddenly threw new issues into the mix, and these are left outstanding.

The new deal that was explained to a national briefing on Thursday says there will be a national agreement on door to door within three months. We don’t know what that will be. We don’t  know what it will mean for earnings  or  workload.

All we do know is that if it comes to a disagreement, we will be fighting over that issue in isolation, and with only one section of our membership directly affected.

This is not a long-term agreement, it is a short-term fudge.

CWU National official Bob Gibson has been fighting hard for  two years trying to get a good deal on door to door. What guarantees do workers have that what will emerge in three months will be acceptable? 

There will also be some sort of terms of reference over walk sequencing in eight weeks time. But, again, we don’t know what those terms will be.

If the offer is unacceptable,  we will have lost the momentum of the campaign.

The time to deal with these issues is when we have mobilised 136,000 members for the fight and with all the issues taken together, not when we’ve stood the members down.

It’s a big thing to launch a national strike ballot campaign. Many activists have sweated blood to spread the message. The precious feeling of trust in the union and readiness to fight should not be thrown away. 

And remember there are other questions hanging over us.

On pensions there’s a promise of new money, but no guarantee about the retirement age and contribution rates for the future.

On vacancies: management will give a guarantee that present full time jobs won’t go part time which is a legal contractual obligation. But they won’t guarantee that when full time vacancies arise that they will not be automatically revert them into part time hours.

On the attendance procedure management want a new system introduced almost immediately - and they will no doubt try to make it easier to sack people. This is completely unagreed and no proposals on details have been given.

And this isn’t even to mention issues such as a shorter working week, reaching average pay, the plans for 40,000 job losses, outsourcing, privatisation and share sales.

And according to some reports, leading national officials now believe that teamworking is “up to the members”  to accept or reject. Aren’t we supposed to be 100 percent against it?  

At annual conference Dave Ward said that he saw no  prospect of a reasonable settlement without a clear industrial actin vote from our members. That was necessary to lay the ghost of 2003 to rest  and demonstrate the solid support of postal workers for their union.

We have got only half way through that process. We created the mood for such a vote, but didn’t carry it through - and the result is a fudge.

There is an argument put forward that if we fight the government will take away the money earmarked for our pensions and investment. But if we give into that sort of blackmail then we will make the bullies bolder.

It’s not too late to correct the leadership. 

We have to oppose the deal and organise against it everywhere. If you're opposed to this deal, start arguing with your mates and use the tactics we employed to build the strike ballot in order to defeat the deal.   

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Article information

Sat 15 Jul 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2009
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