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Bring on the ballot and vote yes! [Postal Workers Bulletin 12.09.13]

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Strike threat rattles Coalition, makes investors wary:

Bring on a strike ballot & let’s all vote yes!


CWU postal members will be balloted for industrial action from 20 September to 3 October – and not a moment too soon.  With privatisation coming on top of a crap pay offer, pension cuts, and the prospect of endless workload hikes and job cuts, we need to fight for the whole future of the job and industry.

With a yes vote, we could be on strike by 10 October – just when the government and bankers are likely to launch Royal Mail shares on the stock market.  Coalition ministers and Moya Greene are desperately trying to big up the sale, claiming a lot of interest from investors in the Royal Mail brand. The truth is, the whole City of London is nervously waiting to see what we do.

David Battersby, investment manager at Redmayne Bentley, spoke for many:  “I have no intention of going anywhere near the business of Royal Mail. It is heavily unionised and it has far too much competition from other carriers both in terms of parcels and electronic format.”  That’s an attitude we should encourage – by giving them a hard-hitting strike.

Privatisation porkies

In the June consultative ballot 96 percent of us opposed privatisation. Most members have seen through the weekly propaganda leaflets from Royal Mail, but those who haven’t need to be told the truth behind the spin.

Empty promises:  Royal Mail still can’t show how it will legally guarantee its promises over pay and  jobs.  They said the pension would be safe when the government took it over last year and already they want to raid it, and can’t promise they won’t hike our contributions or worse, close it, in the next few years. Their promises aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Investment lies:  We’ve been told from day one that Royal Mail needs investment, it can’t get it from the government, so it needs to go private. But the railway infrastructure company Network Rail was renationalised and gets huge government subsidies. Now its been leaked that hypocritical Royal Mail managers intend to give 50 percent of profits to shareholders as dividends, they’re so worried the sell-off will flop!  That’s the real priority for a sell-off, not investment.

Postal workers won’t see much of that money even if we do get some shares, and any future profits will come out of our pension, jobs, and hiked workload. It will be like handing over a cake and getting a tiny slice back.

There is another way.  If Royal Mail and Post Office workers were to strike together directly against privatisation, calling on the public to support us, it would be hugely popular. That is the only way to stop privatisation, petitions and protests won’t be enough. We could not only win but could deliver a big bloody nose to the Tories and spark a movement to throw them and their cuts programme out.  Peoples Assemblies against austerity are seeing meetings of hundreds in towns and cities, the CWU should help build them and tap them for support for our action.

It’s true that the more we strike, the more we hurt privatisation’s prospects, even if we don’t strike directly against it. We can still win on pay, pensions and conditions – but only if we turn our action into a strike against privatisation itself can we safeguard them in the future. Increasing competition from TNT’s growing rival delivery service will mean that just to keep profits up Royal Mail bosses will have to squeeze us harder.

No more delay

It’s nearly a year since the CWU tops Dave Ward and Billy Hayes first started talking about fighting privatisation. The consultative ballot was months ago. These delays have allowed the government to build up momentum for privatisation.

No more delay. Ward, Hayes and the rest of the PEC get out of Wimbledon and into the local areas actively building a massive yes vote, to overcome any remaining distrust after the rotten deals in 2007 and 2009.  We can win this time, if reps, activists, members get organised to build a strong turnout, decide what form the strike should take – for instance whether to escalate to all out – and control any action.

  • For a  big yes vote and immediate strike: No crossing picketlines!
  • For an above inflation pay rise – against pension changes, job cuts, and privatisation
  • Don’t cancel strikes for negotiations, we cam walk and talk at the same time. Escalate quickly up to all-out if necessary
  • Actively build solidarity and a hardship fund
  • Coordinate action with other unions  – call on the TUC to organise a general strike to stop austerity and privatisation
  • For elected strike committees in every office and a rank and file movement across the CWU so members control the action: all officials recallable and on a postal workers’ wage
  • Nationalise all the private delivery companies without compensation and merge them into Royal Mail, run under workers and consumers control

No Reliance on Labour

Despite our union giving them millions over the years, Labour tried to privatise Royal Mail back in 2009 and aren’t likely to back our strike. They won’t even support the CWU’s “Save Our Royal Mail” campaign against privatisation, launching their own to grab votes but keep the union at arms length!  We’ll see if the upcoming Labour conference will back the CWU motion calling on a Labour government to renationalise Royal Mail if its sold off.

But the fact is we can’t trust them to follow through – the previous Labour government ignored conference votes to renationalise the railways. What’s more, Labour might not even get elected in 2015, it’s tacked so far to the right that its pledged to stick to the Tory austerity budget for at least its first two years.  The unions need to launch a new working class party to resist and reverse austerity and privatisation – postal workers can start voting with their feet by joining Left Unity and building support for it.

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One Response to Bring on the ballot and vote yes! [Postal Workers Bulletin 12.09.13]

  1. steve

    October 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    we should have done the strike vote months ago when the sell off was first announced by the goverment so we might have been fighting this sell off and making a stand by now

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