29 October 2009 — Morning Star Online
DEFIANCE: Strikers on the picket lines are fed up of management attacks.
Post workers have continued their offensive with a third national strike against bosses’ threats to cut thousands of Royal Mail jobs.
More than 43,000 workers at huge mail centres and trucking depots across Britain defied management and refused to take out the post, in protest against Royal Mail executives’ attempts to tear up union agreements protecting their jobs.
Mail sorters, long-distance drivers and engineers set up picket lines before dawn after last-minute talks at the TUC between the workers’ union and post bosses were derailed by what CWU deputy leader Dave Ward described as ‘Royal Mail’s lack of sincerity in wanting an agreement.’
Standing in solidarity with striking post workers on the picket line at central London’s huge Mount Pleasant mail centre, Mr Ward explained that ‘post workers have already lost 60,000 jobs and another 60,000 are at risk, while the remaining full-time workers fear being forced to accept part-time positions.’
But Royal Mail’s negotiators ‘walk away every time we get close to a deal,’ he charged.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes responded to management’s hard line, declaring: ‘I can see the strike action increasing now, because I don’t think we’re going to put up with this messing about.’
And referring to Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier’s demand that post workers should ‘shut up,’ Mr Hayes asserted: ‘Our people are not going to shut up – our people are very angry.’
Strikers on the picket lines pledged defiance in the face of management attacks.
CWU Wales rep Amarjit Singh insisted that post workers ‘have been put in this position through no fault of their own.
‘Our members don’t want to strike, they don’t want to lose money, but their terms and conditions and job security are on the line,’ he stressed.
Newcastle CWU rep John Frazer emphasised that ‘no-one has broken the strike – it has completely held up.’
And Birmingham union rep Steve Reid added that workers were prepared to begin an ‘indefinite strike’ to oppose management’s offensive.
‘It’s our jobs, our livelihoods that are on the line, but it’s not only that – it’s a public service, the customers’ post that’s at risk,’ he declared.
Workers on the picket line at the Nine Elms mail centre in south London urged the union to step up pressure on the government to force Royal Mail to back down.
Striker Paul Cotes said: ‘Labour should take notice because this is an important fight that could last to the election and it will define the future of our members – whether we stay full or part time, or even employed at all.’
Fellow picket Mr Patel pointed out that CWU members in London had recently voted by 96 per cent to call on the union to disaffiliate from Labour because of the party’s failure to protect the publicly owned mail service.
‘Dave Ward has said, that as a union, we can’t go on supporting a party that is attacking us,’ Mr Patel recalled.
‘So it is vital that the union wins this dispute to show that we can fight for our jobs,’ he added.