Royal Mail postal workers began their second national strike ballot in recent months on Tuesday in a momentous battle over jobs, conditions—and the future of the industry.
The ballot of some 110,000 CWU union members is set to end on Tuesday 17 March.
It could deliver another thumping vote to strike against sweeping attacks planned by chief executive Rico Back.
And it should be followed by immediate action.
Back wants to split Royal Mail up into a new parcels company run for profit, and a letters delivery service that will be run down.
That means taking vital work away from Royal Mail—causing at least 20,000 job losses.
And the union fears Back’s ambition to scrap Royal Mail’s obligation to deliver letters six days a week will lead to many more.
Those workers left will be made to work like robots.
Bosses want to use technology such as their handheld delivery devices to monitor everything workers do and find ways to make them work harder.
CWU reps met for a national meeting in central London on Thursday of last week—and were told to deliver a huge yes vote. In a previous ballot in November last year, workers voted 97 percent for strikes on a 76 percent turnout.
But no action was called after bosses got a high court injunction to rule the ballot unlawful.
Royal Mail managers used the following months of talks and negotiations to further delay action.
All the while they were planning to push through their changes.
Now bosses are forcing through attacks in workplaces across Britain—including threats to axe 100 jobs in Bristol mail centre.
In many areas, CWU activists have asked for local ballots to hold back the assault.
But in a sign that union leaders are worried about the threat of further legal action, any local ballots requests will only be processed after the national one.
At the reps’ meeting last week, CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger urged reps to be “disciplined”.
CWU members have to deliver another thumping yes vote—and will need support from every trade unionist.
But with attacks already underway, they also have to be prepared to take hard-hitting action as soon as possible—and defy the law if necessary.
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