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Mark Serwotka calls for unity among public sector workers

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Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the civil service workers' PCS union, electrified a postal workers' rally in London last week with a call for unity in action against the government.
Issue 2053
Mark Serwotka of the PCS
Mark Serwotka of the PCS

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the civil service workers’ PCS union, electrified a postal workers’ rally in London last week with a call for unity in action against the government.

He said, ‘If unions stand together they have a much better chance of success.

‘We will be writing to other unions to see if there is a chance of coordinating our efforts.

‘If post offices are shutting and job centres are shutting, if you’re facing privatisation and we’re facing privatisation, if your pay is held down and our pay is restricted, then it is time we thought how to work together effectively around these issues.

‘I hope you get a good settlement, but if you do not and have to strike then we will do whatever we can to support you.’

There was strong support for Mark’s speech at the rally, and a good mood for action.

The union’s deputy general secretary Dave Ward said that he had gone to a mail centre to do a meeting about the ballot.

The manager had said he would have to consult Allan Leighton to see if this was acceptable – and then had reported back to say it was not.

Ward coolly said that was his choice and that he would be holding the meeting in the car park – at which point the entire workforce walked out to hear him!

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes pointed out that although Royal Mail’s competitors had grabbed a number of big contracts, 99 percent off all mail was still delivered by Royal Mail workers.

Shock support for Johnson

Postal workers have reacted with shock and anger to the news that their CWU union executive has decided to nominate Alan Johnson for the position of deputy leader of the Labour Party. Johnson is the former general secretary of the CWU.

Socialist Worker understands that at the executive meeting three candidates were nominated – Johnson, Jon Cruddas and Peter Hain.

Cruddas’s policies, it was agreed, were clearly the closest to the CWU’s, but nevertheless Johnson won the most votes of the three.

A CWU member told Socialist Worker, ‘I’m amazed. From a trade union perspective I could make a case for almost any of the candidates instead of Johnson.

‘He was the only union leader to back Tony Blair over removing Clause Four, backed shares in the Post Office, says some union leaders are from ‘Planet Zog’ and piloted top-up college fees through parliament. Why on earth are we backing him?

‘I’m trying to get an emergency motion to our conference denouncing the decision.’

Spotlight on Labour

The CWU executive, which includes several strong Labour supporters, is backing a motion from a number of London branches to this weekend’s conference which says:

‘Conference condemns the government for allowing the unelected quango Postcomm to effectively destroy the public Post Office.

‘Conference further deplores the Labour government for privatising the postal industry by stealth.’

It adds: ‘Conference agrees that unless the union achieves the removal of Postcomm in its present form and the protection of the Post Office Network by June 2008. Then a ballot of the membership will take place on whether the union should contribute future monies to the Labour Party.’

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