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”

mixed reactions to cwu-royal mail deal

Interview with a communist post worker


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 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.


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”

wildcats show how to fight royal mail bosses

by Paul Haste

Postal workers continue to fightback with wildcat strikes against Royal Mail bosses’ attempts to bully staff and slash jobs, but the CWU union continues to stand back from leading the kind of coordinated national action that can win this dispute.


Royal Mail managers are on the rampage, tearing up contracts, sacking union reps and preparing the ground for massive job losses, but the CWU, instead of using the weeks before the September ballot on national industrial action to win the biggest vote possible in favour of a strike, insists on imploring bosses to get back to the negotiating table. Continue reading “wildcats show how to fight royal mail bosses”