|The News Line: Editorial
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Hayes & Ward must go! Build a new leadership in the CWU!
AS 2,000 postal workers were gearing up for a 24-hour strike on Friday against Royal Mail’s plans to close mail centres, Dave Ward, the Communication Workers Union’s (CWU) Deputy General Secretary and the union’s Postal Executive called off the strike on Thursday afternoon.
CWU members at five mail centres, in Bolton, Crewe, Stockport, Coventry and Oxford, were due to walk out in a fight against Royal Mail bosses’ Mail Centre Rationalisation programme. The mail centre closure plans are part of Chairman Allan Leighton’s and Chief Executive Adam Crozier’s rundown of the universal postal service, a vital public service.
Ward attempted to justify abandoning the strikes in a letter to CWU branches and in a media statement. He said: ‘We are calling off the strikes today as some progress has been made justifying the continuation of more meaningful discussions.’
Branches were not even given a hint of what ‘progress’ had been made. They were told only that ‘a National Campaign would need to be launched in the New Year’ in response to Mail Centre Rationalisation and the implementation of the Hooper Report.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government adopted Hooper’s recommendations, which included the £3bn part-privatisation of Royal Mail, with the loss of 50,000 jobs.
The response of CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes to Industry Secretary Lord Mandelson’s decision for large-scale privatisation of Royal Mail was pathetic. He said: ‘This was meant to be a report about compensation but Mandelson has ignored the damage done through irresponsible liberalisation and advocates more involvement by private companies. . . . we look forward to receiving more information on future regulation.’
Ward added: ‘We will be studying the detail of the report closely over the coming weeks and will respond fully in the New Year.’
There was no mention of any action to fight the privatisation of Royal Mail.
Hayes and Ward’s craven capitulation to Leighton and Crozier, and the Brown government, is in sharp contrast to the angry reaction to Mandelson’s privatisation plans by CWU members up and down the country.
The immediate reaction of a local CWU official in Edinburgh was clear. He said: ‘We should fight this tooth and nail. Members will be furious. They will demand we break the link with Labour and some form of strike action.’
Another official from CWU Eastern Region said that ‘we should withdraw CWU finances from the Labour Party. We should sever all links. We feel betrayed.’
He continued: ‘This plan to privatise has to be fought all the way. We should have a national strike ballot . . . We have to take all-out action now, nothing less will do.’
Significantly he added: ‘It’s going to show where our General Secretary stands on this.’
Just so! It is clear that Hayes, Ward and their supporters in the CWU leadership are wasting time awaiting ‘more information’, while they work out how they can continue to collaborate with Royal Mail bosses and the Brown government.
Ward suggests that by abandoning the mail centre strikes he is, in the words of the old saying, ‘running away in order to fight another day’.
This will be familiar to the CWU’s 150,000 members at Royal Mail. They have heard it so many times before, including when the national strike actions were called off in 2007.
They know that Hayes, Ward and co. are running away today in order to run away even faster next year.
For CWU members the fight is on for their jobs and the future of Royal Mail as a public service.
They must demand that their union immediately ceases funding the Labour Party.
They must insist on a ballot for national strike action to defend mail centres, defeat Mandelson’s privatisation plans and keep their jobs.
A public sector alliance has to be forged to call mass national strike action to defend all services, defeat the Brown government and replace it with a workers’ government.
Such a struggle can only be pursued successfully by getting the Hayes-Ward leadership out and replacing them with a new leadership.
The Workers Revolutionary Party is building this leadership in the CWU through its industrial section, the All Trades Unions Alliance. Join the WRP today!
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