Thursday, 11 October 2007

Support the postal workers

OVER A 100,000 Royal Mail workers walked out for 48 hours last week bringing postal deliveries to a standstill and they did so again this week, demonstrating that the membership was right behind their union’s refusal to accept management’s attempt to link their miserable pay offer to a “flexibility” agreement that will reduce postal workers’ average earnings and considerably devalue their pension scheme. The rock-solid response of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) membership has shocked management, which had spread scare stories that a strike would finish the union and the industry.
Despite management claims what postal workers make is still £80 a week below the national average. The current 6.9 per cent pay offer over two years is tied to “flexibility” changes without any guarantee of recompense or job security. The current pension scheme will close, reducing existing benefits and the retirement age will be raised from 60 to 65. Senior management is refusing to seriously negotiate with the CWU to settle the dispute. Now they’re churning out the “greedy workers” lie to turn the massive public sympathy for the strikers to justify management’s refusal to meet the CWU’s legitimate demands.
Down the years post workers have won concessions to cover the unsocial hours, shifts and public holiday work that they have to do to deliver the mail. Now it’s called “Spanish” or “restrictive” practices. When the head of Royal Mail gets a million a year – far more than even the Prime Minister gets – it’s called “competitiveness” and “good value”.
Gordon Brown bleats that the strike was disrupting people’s lives. “When we, the Government, are investing a huge amount of money in the postal services, it is not something that we can either condone or we can stand idly by and say it is an acceptable form of behaviour,” he says, adding: “I want these people back to work.”
Well, all he has to do is tell Royal Mail management to make a realistic response to the CWU’s demands. In the meantime the striking workers should receive all the trade union solidarity and public support they need to guarantee victory.