Are you listening yet, Mr Crozier? By Paul Haste on the picket line

29 October 2009 — Morning Star Online

cwu.jpgDEFIANCE: 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.

A Postal Strike In Britain Is The War At Home By John Pilger

21 October, 2009 — Information Clearing

The postal workers’ struggle is as vital for democracy as any national event in recent years. The campaign against them is part of a historic shift from the last vestiges of political democracy in Britain to a corporate world of insecurity and war. If the privateers running the Post Office are allowed to win, the regression that now touches all lives bar the wealthy will quicken its pace. A third of British children now live in low-income or impoverished families. One in five young people is denied hope of a decent job or education.

And now the Brown government is to mount a “fire sale” of public assets and services worth £16bn. Unmatched since Margaret Thatcher’s transfer of public wealth to a new gross elite, the sale, or theft, will include the Channel Tunnel rail link, bridges, the student loan bank, school playing fields, libraries and public housing estates. The plunder of the National Health Service and public education is already under way.

The common thread is adherence to the demands of an opulent, sub-criminal minority exposed by the 2008 collapse of Wall Street and of the City of London, now rescued with hundreds of billions in public money and still unregulated with a single stringent condition imposed by the government. Goldman Sachs, which enjoys a personal connection with the Prime Minister, is to give employees record average individual pay and bonus packages of £500,000. The Financial Times now offers a service called How to Spend It.

None of this is accountable to the public, whose view was expressed at the last election in 2005: New Labour won with the support of barely a fifth of the British adult population. For every five people who voted Labour, eight did not vote at all. This was not apathy, as the media pretend, but a strike by the public – like the postal workers are today on strike. The issues are broadly the same: the bullying and hypocrisy of contagious, undemocratic power.

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“Royal Mail secret plot with ‘the Shareholder’ (ie. the Labour government)

17 October, 2009 — Red Postie

BBC Newsnight on Thursday revealed a leaked confidential document spilling the beans on a Royal Mail plan to impose cuts, provoke a strike and smash the union. This blows a hole in their spin over the past couple of weeks about an uncooperative union!

The document, marked ‘in strictest confidence’ and dated way back to 24 September, shows there is no deal possible, RM plans to go for nothing less than 100% of its demands, imposing cuts ‘with or without union engagement’ and making a ‘demonstration of resolve through dispute – strikes don’t work.’

Postal bosses shed crocodile tears for the cameras about how the strikes would hurt the public and lose Royal Mail business. The leaked doc showed they’re perfectly happy to let the dispute rip: ‘demonstration of commercial impact of dispute – strikes make things worse – the more we can demonstrate this to our people the better.’

And when it comes to valuing its workers, the doc states that if the CWU doesn’t agree ‘a deal on our terms’ then a ‘programme of reducing relationship with union’ (ie derecognising it) is on the cards. One tactic is to withdraw agreed facility time for union area reps and fulltime officials, to try to cripple the running of the strike.

‘A new relationship with our people is non-negotiable and will happen anyway, with or without union agreement.’

Then the real bombshell: if the CWU refuses to agree ‘we have positioned things in such a way as there is shareholder, customer and internal support for implementation of change without agreement.’ Of course the only shareholder is the Labour government! Predictably Royal Mail bosses and Labour have said they know nothing about it.

A Labour MP on Newsnight tried to distract from this by saying ‘we all, the whole public, are the shareholders’ but that’s just ridiculous. The document said ‘the shareholder’, we all know who that is! Its been clear since 2007 if not before that Labour is in cahoots with the Crozier management – after all they appointed him!

Billy Hayes gave a credible defence of why postal workers were striking, but he also tried to show Royal Mail wasn’t serious about talks because it refused ACAS or government intervention – but that should be the last thing we want, both would tilt 100% towards Royal Mail’s modernisation demands. Anyway it’s now clear they are intervening – by backing Royal Mail’s union-busting to the hilt! But most posties knew that.

The embarrassing bit was when the Newsnight presenter repeatedly asked Billy how he felt about the CWU giving £7 million since 2001 to Labour to have it plotting against it, and did he support the 98% of London postal workers who had voted to break from Labour? Labour-lovin’ Billy ducked it several times before lamely saying the party wasn’t the same as the government.

The offices were buzzing on Friday with news of this treachery from Labour, and concern as it hit home how nasty this management is willing to get. More than ever postal workers realise that our whole union is at stake, and are more determined than ever to see through the strike to defend it.

The message is loud and clear: there is no deal on the cards or help from the government – quite the opposite they are stabbing us in the back! No more delay. Let’s strike, and strike the Labour Party off our books. “