first class solidarity

A letter to The Commune

A brief report: around one hundred postal workers walked out of the Almeida St (Islington N1) delivery office on Wednesday 8th June. The walkout was sparked by the suspension of a postal worker on a trumped-up charge. The background context was an increasing pressure on all workers over ‘absorption’: that is, taking on extra work over and above each worker’s own round, often to cover absences or staff shortages.

The worker in question was well known in the office to be of good character, and scrupulous in following procedures. Absorption often leads to work going over proper hours, and the main means management have to enforce this is bullying and disciplinary action.

Workers held a canteen meeting, and then walked out for three hours, waiting at the gates until CWU negotiators reported that management had climbed down. Workers seemed confident that management would have to cave, resisting a compromise proposal that the worker would not be suspended, but would have a manager follow them around on their walk.

Workers also held out for a guarantee that there would be no reprisals against individual workers. Perhaps this will give postal workers more confidence that they can resist bullying and threats related to absorption, not only in Islington but around the country. Immediate direct action, based on a mass meeting, meant that management couldn’t get around the action by hiring scab labour, or bringing in managers from elsewhere – a very different dynamic to the 2009 official action.

Tom, London

royal mail deal: a post mortem

After 18 days’ strike action in London in 2009 the Communication Workers’ Union leadership voted for a return to work. As one reader of The Commune explains, the subsequent outcome has demoralised many:

by ‘Postman Pat’

I work at the West End Delivery Office in west London. After all the voluntary early retirements there’s along the lines of 300 workers on the floor, of those just 40-50 on nights.

The nightshift is sorting-only but because of the cuts in recent years they hardly ever manage to finish the sorting of letters so that’s usually left for the dayshift: so day staff do sorting and delivery. Some days my district doesn’t manage to finish delivery on time because of a cut from 5 to 2 men on sorting, so we don’t leave the office til 1pm. Continue reading “royal mail deal: a post mortem”

union sell-outs – disbelief and dialectics

by Adam Ford

Many postal workers and their supporters were left disgusted and disbelieving on Bonfire Night. Billy Hayes and his Communication Workers Union executive had unanimously voted to sabotage a series of strikes which enjoyed widespread support, and guaranteed there would be no strikes until after Christmas. What’s more, they had gained nothing concrete in return. When the new year comes around, Royal Mail will still be looking to make thousands of workers redundant, and attack the conditions of those that remain. In the meantime, posties are already facing a meagre festive period, having lost hundreds and even thousands of pounds in wages on the picket lines.

A message on the ‘I Support the Postal Workers!’ Facebook group summed up the thoughts and feelings of many:
“All the postal workers in Stevenage are furious at the strike being called off. They feel that Royal Mail have got what they wanted eg mail being delivered for Xmas. As soon as Xmas is out of the way Royal Mail will be pushing the changes through and not giving a stuff about the workers. Some feel that they have lost wages for nothing.” Continue reading “union sell-outs – disbelief and dialectics”

mixed reactions to cwu-royal mail deal

Interview with a communist post worker

postvan

How strong was the national post strike?

At a national level I would say the strike was very strong. It is hard to say the whole picture from the one location where I work, but judging by Royal Mail Chat [a web forum] — even if the people on there are more militant than average — there were no signs that it was losing momentum. In London there was perhaps a certain tiredness after eighteen weeks of strike action but not such that it was close to exhaustion. At no time did the union claim that they were calling off the action because they were losing people – Royal Mail management claimed that 25% of people were not on strike, but those were fiddled figures given that in that number they included managers and people on holiday, rest day or sick… Continue reading “mixed reactions to cwu-royal mail deal”

post strikes suspended: this deal is no deal! resume action!

by Joe Thorne

CWU Letter to Branches including text of final agreement with Royal Mail (large PDF)

At the top of the CWU-Royal Mail agreement is a header. “Final Draft – 5 November 2009 —- 1.10AM”.  This innocuous line is emblematic of the CWU negotiating team’s strategy: it indicates that the text was agreed more than 7 hours after the strikes were called off.  What sort of negotiation strategy is this – to abandon the bargaining power represented in industrial action, on the promise of a deal yet to be finalised?

INDUSTRY Post 075952

Continue reading “post strikes suspended: this deal is no deal! resume action!”

post strike: solidarity strong amongst manchester students

by Mark Harrison

Manchester students are running a solidarity campaign to support the city’s postal workers. The campaign involves members of The Commune, Anarchist Federation, Communist Students, the SWP, AWL and individual leftist students.

PostalPicket

Members of the ‘Manchester Students Support the Postal Strike’ group stood alongside workers on pickets this week and shall be returning for the next round of strikes. For many this has been their first time on a picket line and it has been a good opportunity to learn from the Royal Mail workers about the bullying practices of their management. Despite the right wing press demonising the CWU a ComRes survey for the BBC found that 50% of people sympathise most with the postal workers and only 25 per cent with the management. This was demonstrated by those passing by on their way to work, and even Tony Lloyd, the Labour MP for Manchester Central, came down to show his support (ironically he has been a supporter of plans for postal service privatisation). Continue reading “post strike: solidarity strong amongst manchester students”

let’s form postcode gangs!

By Joe Thorne

No, not the postcode gangs that generate periodic moral panics in the mainstream media.  We need a new sort of postcode gang: made up of workers and activists who visit the picket lines set up by postal workers as part of their ongoing strikes against cuts in Royal Mail.  The next strikes are on Friday 6th and Monday 9th November. Why not take half an hour to go down your local picket line (there is a delivery office for each postcode), find a little out about the dispute and show some solidarity?

To find out where to go, check out the Next Strikes page on www.supporttheposties.net

PostStrikeCovPA_468x319 Continue reading “let’s form postcode gangs!”