In spite of Labour's manifesto commitments the government plans to privatise the Post Office. Lobbying Labour MPs, who have shown in the past that they will settle for cosmetic changes to avoid defeating the government in Parliament, won't stop this. Post Office workers have the organised strength to mount the campaign of industrial action needed to defeat Labour's plans.
In spite of the withdrawal of the Labour government’s plans to privatise the Royal Mail, postal workers’ campaign of strike action continues. In truth, postal workers consider privatisation has already happened, when the profitable parts of the business were hived off in the 2006 “liberalisation” exacerbating the problems the Royal Mail faces. The dispute is about “modernisation” – job cuts, attacks on pay, conditions and pensions – and the bullying which has passed for management in the Post for many years. CWU members believe that management are seeking to break the union.
Workers in London and Edinburgh struck on Friday 19th June, and elsewhere in Scotland on Saturday 20th. Management are not honouring the 2007 agreement on modernisation, in spite of record profits delivered by postal workers. Another rolling programme of strikes hit London on 8th-10th July, with delivery offices, distribution and logistics workers, and mail centres striking on consecutive days, as part of a longer programme. A national day of action was planned for Friday 17th July and other areas of Britain were seeking ballots on industrial action.
It is likely that the dispute will become national, with a real possibility that if the union leadership continue to avoid a confrontation with the government that unofficial national strike action will break out. There is also a feeling among the union’s members that its leadership has kept silent on MPs’ expenses and failed to support its members against the Labour government. However, the rank and file of the CWU has been far more militant than its leadership for decades now – Alan Johnson is a former General Secretary of the union – so we will watch developments with interest rather than expectation.
Workers at Royal Mail have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over management plans for job cuts. 76% of workers who responded to the ballot voted in favour of industrial action. The roots of the dispute go back to the settlement that ended the 2007 national postal strike.
At the time it was announced as a victory, but in fact the CWU union agreed to management plans to cut jobs. The ‘victory’ was that the CWU and Royal Mail management would negotiate the details of the cuts at a local level. Now postal workers are unhappy with the results of those negotiations. One trigger is the Royal Mail’s refusal to “Pay for Change.” In unilaterally imposing such changes by so-called ‘executive action’, Royal Mail have reopened the dispute.
8-page leaflet looking at what we can learn from the 2007 postal strike, the 2008 public sector strike and the 2009 Visteon occupation.
The leaflet was produced for a demo against the Labour Party Conference on Sunday 27th September. It is based on several previously published articles and we try to draw the lessons of recent relevant struggles in the UK.
For Workers’ Control
Lessons of recent struggles in the UK
Recent years have seen promising signs of a working class fightback, after decades of attacks on working class living standards.