the truth about the postal strikes

A message distributed to supporters of the ongoing postal strikes.

There has been a lot of misinformation put about by management about the current strikes. They say it is about local issues that other areas have already signed off on – flexibility, or georoutes – so you don’t need to strike, its just London being bolshy.

They claim that the union is lying, that they are talking to the union and nobody will be forced to go part time. And of course they are laying it on thick with the blackmail that if we strike it will hurt the business, customers will leave and our jobs could suffer. All of this is just spin. Here’s the facts:

Jobs

Royal Mail’s modernisation plan, according to the Hooper review published in December 2008, will mean the next two-three years could see up to 50,000 full-time jobs being cut, half of mail centres being closed and up to two-thirds of delivery offices being closed. So look around your office and imagine one third of people disappeared – or maybe the whole office! There won’t be enough buy downs and EVR for all those people, and with so many offices closing, where will all the people made surplus by walk sorting machinery and CD Vans go? Onto the dole, most likely, after all where are we going to get a job in
this recession?

When Royal Mail says they have no plans to force anybody to go part time, or for compulsory redundancies, that isn’t a guarantee they won’t in the future – but that’s what they want people to think now, so they don’t feel threatened enough to go on strike.

Pay

Royal Mail continues to argue that postal workers are 25% overpaid and 40% underworked. That is why despite £321 million in profits, we got a pay freeze this year and managers got massive bonuses worth thousands of pounds. And if we don’t stand up to them now, they might in the future decide to actually cut pay – what would stop them? Both Labour and the Tories are talking about cutting public sector pay in the next year, so Royal Mail will have the perfect excuse. Getting our pay down 25% means going back to wage levels before Single Daily Delivery – or even lower in real terms, due to last year’s inflation which means our wage buys less than before.

Union busting

Royal Mail says it is talking to the union, but this is just a bare-faced lie. They have ripped up the 2007 Pay and Modernisation agreement after they got the flexibility they wanted, and refused to negotiate with the CWU on the future of the business, including closures, cuts, and everything else. Instead they launched a massive closure programme, with well over a dozen mail centres (one fifth of the total) on the hit list including bastions of the union such as Oxford and Liverpool Copperas Hill.
It is now clear that Royal Mail wants to follow TNT’s operations in Holland and impose a majority part-time, casualised workforce that do not work in the office and so have little contact with the union, and for the most part are not in it. For months they have refused to discuss their modernisation plans with the union nationally, ignoring requests for talks while pretending to negotiate with local reps (who they just ignore).

On top of all the other stuff, there will almost certainly be more cuts to our pension benefits (the deficit is now hitting £10 billion, thanks to Royal Mail putting it all on the stock market, another brilliant idea brought to you by the City suits at the top). To sum up, modernisation is meant to bust our union, which is how we collectively stand together and force Royal Mail to give us pay rises, respect workers and adhere to health and safety. If we lose the union, we are really up the creek without a paddle.

This is a strategic question for every worker. With a union, we can always hope to recover from a defeat like 2007 or win a pay rise in the future even if we didn’t get one this year. Without a union, all these things go out the window, we won’t even be able to defend what we’ve got.

3 thoughts on “the truth about the postal strikes

  1. I am a postie in West Sussex, previously at Kingston Mail Centre (closed now).
    The whole country should be out until this issue is sorted.
    The National Union needs to ballot the country now, before it is too late.
    It is no good letting local reps decide if their area wants to strike.
    Don’t forget that some area reps have their own agenda and not the interests of their members. I’ve seen it all before and I got 15 years in Royal Mail. Dave Ward must lead the whole country to a walk out, not just London and other areas. Otherwise you can kiss goodbye to the CWU in Royal Mail especially with a tory right wing government coming soon.

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  2. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for your comment. More unified national action is definitely needed. In the past, haven’t strikes normally spread through unofficial, rather than official, action? Do you think posties should wait on Dave Ward to give the lead, or start to organise spreading the action themselves?

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