Socialist Worker

Impasse in postal workers' dispute negotiations

Issue No. 2011

The long-running national postal workers’ dispute reached an extraordinary impasse last week.

CWU union leaders claim that, “Over a week ago we reached an agreement with Royal Mail on most of the issues that we have been campaigning for. It was our intention to ballot our members on an agreement. However, a few things have stopped that happening.”

Indeed they have. Managers want to lift the restrictions on how many door to door items (unaddressed advertising material) workers are expected to deliver - without extra payment.

They are refusing detailed terms of reference for the walk sequencing technology that could slash tens of thousands of jobs. They are threatening to introduce teamworking, and want a new attendance procedure - but refuse to reveal the details!

It also seems that the “generous” investment package promised by the government in May is conditional on acceptance of a privatising shares package, which would give 20 percent of the company to the workforce.

The Independent reported on 21 July, “Despite support in principle for the idea at ministerial level, the government has put off a decision until towards the end of the year. Without approval for the employee share scheme, the other elements of the Royal Mail refinancing cannot proceed either.”

This is blackmail from New Labour - go down the privatisation route or see your pension wrecked and see the private competitors get a head start.

The pay and conditions dispute began in May when Royal Mail said they’d impose a 2.4 percent pay deal, sideline the union and lay the basis for future attacks on jobs, pensions and conditions.

The union announced a strike ballot which was supposed to start on 10 July and finish on 31 July. In the lead up there was a great campaign that showed how ready CWU members were to fight.

Royal Mail managers were forced to offer new talks.

Management have made some concessions, but not enough to satisfy the majority of the CWU postal executive or a national reps’ briefing.

The union’s national officers have returned seeking amendments - which have been refused. Last week the postal executive again reviewed the deal, and the majority said it would be acceptable only if amendments were passed.

Postponing the ballot has encouraged Royal Mail’s boss Allan Leighton to go on the offensive. Unless the strike ballot starts soon, then those who want to accept the deal may secure a majority on the postal executive and try and finish off the dispute.

The rank and file paper Post Worker will hold a meeting in London this Saturday 29 July, 2pm, University of London Union, Malet Street, WC1. Norman Candy (postal executive, pc), and others will discuss how to take the dispute forward. All CWU members are welcome.

Some 150 postal workers in Oxfordshire are to be balloted over the issues of bullying which were supposed to have been sorted after a recent four day unofficial strike.

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Article information

Sat 29 Jul 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2011
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