OVER 25,000 postal workers in London were set to strike this week in a defiant response to their management. The strike is over London weighting, but it has greater significance. It will be another important step on the road to the union recovering its self confidence and fighting spirit after the setback of losing the national pay ballot.
The last ten days have seen a remarkable turnaround. After the ballot many commentators, and the gloating management, believed the union was dead in the water. They felt they could ram through whatever they wanted and humiliate union activists.
But then came the Oxford strike where rank and file organisation and initiative won a stunning victory. The London strike will reaffirm that the union is still very much alive and kicking.
Norman Candy, the CWU postal workers’ union London divisional rep told Socialist Worker, ‘Our members are determined to achieve justice over London weighting. The present rate of pay is simply not adequate to survive in the capital. The 72 percent vote for strikes is the largest ever in the post in an official ballot over a pay issue. We know that this will be a difficult fight against a ruthless management. But we are ready for the battle. We will be following an industrial and political campaign, one that hits management as hard as possible. The implications of this dispute go beyond the immediate issue. Following the disappointment of the national pay ballot, this will be the first major opportunity for CWU members to defend their union and to say with one voice that they won’t be pushed around. Management says there is no extra money for London weighting. If we can be successful in this campaign then it will be a boost to the union nationally and show that action can get what we are after.’
Although a further programme of action is yet to be finalised, there is strong support among postal workers for another strike on Thursday 16 October, the same day council workers walk out over London weighting. Every postal worker, every trade unionist and every anti-war activist should support the post strikes.
They show that an important section of the working class movement is resisting the bosses and the government which unleashed those bosses on the workers. A national reps meeting last weekend displayed deep political anger against New Labour.
That anger is not confined to left wing activists-it is spreading. And it is in direct opposition to calls from most union leaders to sit tight and ‘reclaim Labour’.
Turn to page15 for What We Think, and report of national reps’ meeting.
THE POST Office has set up a scab centre in Treforest, South Wales. It began work this week with around 200 casual workers. An area manager has admitted that the centre has two functions. The first is to deal with work from Northampton (where the mail centre was recently destroyed by fire). The second is to handle work from offices on strike.
The centre, and others that are most probably in the pipeline, is a direct threat to every postal worker. Management hate the fact that when an office goes on strike others refuse to do their work for them. This was a key factor in the Oxford strike. But scab centres -unorganised, without unionisation or traditions of solidairty-would mean that a strike could be isolated.
Under Allan Leighton, Post Office management seem determined to re-run every dirty management tactic from the past. First they have tried ‘going over the head of the union’ to the workforce, as used by Michael Edwardes in the British Leyland car plants in 1977.
Now at Treforest they are doing something in the spirit of Wapping in 1985 when Rupert Murdoch built a scab plant and sacked over 5,000 printers, journalists and electricians in Fleet Street. The union must take immediate action to challenge such centres.
POSTAL workers are striking and campaigning for £4,000 London weighting. The police get £6,250 London weighting.
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle