Leaders of the postal workers’ union were wrong to suspend strikes at Royal Mail last week.
Now many strikers fear that despite weeks of rock solid action, the company will be able to use the “period of calm” promised by the deal to clear the giant backlog of mail.
The interim agreement signed by the CWU union and Royal Mail does not solve the key issues behind the dispute.
And by demobilising the union’s membership, it leaves the door open to a further wave of management attacks.
Crucially, it states that there will be “no industrial action in the run-up to and during the Christmas period”—on condition that ongoing negotiations are proceeding.
The secret Royal Mail presentation published in Socialist Worker shows bosses’ clear intention to avoid any industrial action in the Christmas period, only to return to the offensive in the New Year when the volume of mail falls significantly.
There was no reason for the union to sign up to the agreement. The proposed escalation of strike action—that would have seen two 24-hour strikes in close succession last week—had widespread support within the union.
And the prospect of further hard-hitting action had both management and the government on the ropes.
It is testimony to the strength of the union that Royal Mail was forced repeatedly to return to talks—and to offer a number of concessions.
Many union activists rightly feel that a significant victory was within their grasp and that national strike action must be restored quickly in order for the union to regain the initiative.
Already there are signs that the bosses are not serious about the local talks that are supposed to resolve the key issues behind the dispute.
In many delivery offices management have so far refused to even meet with union reps to discuss resolving the chaos caused by attempts to “re-design” delivery rounds.
The picture in mail centres is similar. The agreement states that offices that have had their work diverted to scab “outhouses” should have it returned to them.
But union reps at several depots have told Socialist Worker that this has not happened, with some managers insisting that it will not happen “in the near future”.
These are clear breaches of the “interim agreement” and the union should insist that the company either honours its side of the deal or face the immediate resumption of national strikes.
Activists in the CWU union have set up a petition calling for strikes at Royal Mail to be reinstated.
A senior union rep in the north of England told Socialist Worker, “The number who don’t like what has happened is likely to grow because management are proving totally intransigent in lots of places and making no concessions.”
Postal workers can sign the petition on the web at » www.petitiononline.com/CWU1109/petition.html
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