By Nick Clark
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Don’t let union leaders stop the post battle

This article is over 1 years, 3 months old
Roya Mail bosses are pressing ahead with attacks despite promises to the CWU union
Issue 2841
Post strike: Group of CWU member son a rally in pink CWU hi-vis jackets with anti-corporate placards

The mood against bosses on a rally last year during a post strike (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The CWU union leaders have called off a Royal Mail strike planned for next week after bosses threatened legal action.

The halting of action comes as bosses steam ahead with attacks on jobs, and as union leaders show signs of abandoning strikes in the desperate hope of a deal. Union leaders had called a 24-hour strike beginning on Thursday of next week after Royal Mail managers changed delivery duties—merging them into fewer, longer routes.

Top bosses had promised that while talks were ongoing, changes would only happen through negotiations with local union reps. In return, union leaders held back from calling strikes.

But bosses pushed on regardless, then threatened court action to stop the strikes. They said the changes had nothing to do with the attacks on jobs and conditions that workers voted to strike against.

They also said that the strikers would be out after the legal mandate of the current ballot expired. Union leaders got legal advice that said they could defend the action in court.

But they decided to call it off anyway. They said if the court went against them, it could threaten the legality of a re-ballot, also set to end next Thursday.

In a live video briefing to workers on Tuesday morning, CWU general secretary Dave Ward insisted that winning the ballot would “change the course of the dispute.”

He said bosses were close to giving union leaders a deal and he was “confident we will get an agreement if we deliver that second re-ballot vote.”

He even suggested that winning the vote might mean workers wouldn’t have to strike.

But despite occasionally hinting at concessions, bosses have consistently pushed ahead with their attacks. Ward said if they couldn’t get a deal, the union “will have to step up action.”

No one should accept a deal that includes a below-inflation pay increase or that sacrifices jobs and conditions so bosses can keep profiting.

Workers were in their strongest position when their strikes clogged up Royal Mail’s network. All-out action to bring the whole thing to a standstill can win.

What’s the strategy to win?

This is the second time in this fight that Royal Mail bosses have used the threat of legal action to get union leaders to call off strikes.

It is also at least the second time that they have used talks to delay action—then doubled down on assaults.

Next week’s action would have been the first since well-supported strikes in December last year that caused major backlogs.

CWU union leader Dave Ward spent much of a live video broadcast on Friday of last week fielding questions from union members on why he trusted top boss Simon Thompson. And why he’d waited so long to call more action.

Worryingly, he replied, “It was never going to be about backlogs of mail winning this dispute. There’s not going to be a single knockout blow.”

Instead, he hoped pressure from shareholders, and strong criticism of Thompson by parliamentary committees, would help workers win. But Thompson is seeing through attacks that shareholders have wanted for years.

And the fate of workers at P&O ferries—sacked last year despite strong opposition from the government and exposed in such committees—shows parliament won’t stop him.

Union leaders spoke of “intimidation” from Royal Mail managers “let off the leash” as they push through changes.

More than 200 reps and members have been suspended from work.

Royal Mail workers have a recent, strong tradition of unofficial walkouts to beat back bullying managers and defend union reps. They shouldn’t allow the law to stop them—action can be taken now if they’re prepared to defy it.

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