Union leaders at Royal Mail are throwing everything at getting the poor deal they made with bosses agreed by CWU members. The union last week announced that balloting on the offer will not start until 17 May and will close on 7 June.
That means there will be several weeks in which the union tops can inundate members with propaganda in favour of the deal. But the offer is already meeting heavy resistance from rank and file members.
Last week the union was forced to respond to huge anger among workers in deliveries about later start and finish times. The CWU sent out a video that said that later times would be limited to one hour, and that this was a victory because bosses had wanted more.
But postal workers that watched it on Facebook were hardly convinced. One replied saying, “I presume the one hour is on top of the later starts that have already been implemented. Worryingly, this video has the feel of some of the propaganda Royal Mail were churning out.”
Others felt that the union had wasted its chance to impose its own vision on the company. “We are NOT interested in ‘what Royal Mail wanted’… we do not need the CWU to keep telling us that,” said one.
In a bid to win back the initiative, union leaders have organised reps’ briefings across the country starting in mid-May. Helpfully, management have agreed these can be held in work time to ensure a “good attendance”.
Here the union will get to say how they believe Royal Mail is on the brink of bankruptcy. The deal, they will insist, is the best the union can achieve—and that the alternative is the collapse of the firm.
But accepting the deal does not guarantee that Royal Mail won’t be broken up and sold off to rivals. Real-terms pay will fall every year during the three‑year deal. And there will be a two-tier workforce on worse conditions that bosses will use to undercut older workers.
And, the hundreds of CWU members that have been sacked or suspended during the dispute are at greater risk. They will find themselves at the mercy of a new, binding tribunal system with an anti-union lord at its head.
The alternative is for members to throw out the deal and fight for a serious strategy of strikes to bring the company to heel. For all their bluster, both bosses and the government know that a functioning national postal system is vital for all capitalist economies.
That’s why no one should fall for the blackmail that says only by attacking workers can Royal Mail stay in place.
The agreement on wages is a real‑terms pay cut over three years.
It accepts there’ll be no improvement on the 2 percent that was forced on workers last year.
The agreement lets bosses push on with plans to deliver larger parcels from dedicated “parcels hubs”.
It will introduce seasonal hours—where workers could work up to four hours longer in the winter than in the summer.
Shifts will be pushed later in many workplaces—with the last letter delivery as late as 4.30pm, hugely disrupting workers’ lives.
Two tier firm
Bosses started recruiting new workers on worse terms and conditions last year.
That incentivises bosses to get rid of existing workers and replace them with newer ones.
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