Anger grows against Royal Mail’s pensions onslaught

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ROYAL MAIL managers have overwhelmingly rejected changes to their pensions in a ballot. Their union, Unite, revealed yesterday that there was an 85-per-cent vote to reject Royal Mail’s pensions plan.

Unite National Secretary Paul Reuter said: ‘This is a massive rejection of Royal Mail’s decision to reduce the future pensions of thousands of working people.

The union statement added: ‘Unite will now invite (Royal Mail Chief Executive) Adam Crozier to work with the union to find a sensible solution to this difficult problem.

‘If Royal Mail do not respond to the clear view of their staff then Unite will be left with no choice than to consider balloting for industrial action.’

This news comes in the middle of a consultation ballot being conducted by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents most postal workers at Royal Mail, the results of which are due to be announced on March 26.

These consultative ballots are demonstrably a time-wasting exercise set up by the union leaderships to protect Royal Mail from the anger of postal workers and their demands for strike action to defend their final salary pension scheme.

Royal Mail plans to bring in its changes to pensions on April 1, only five days after the CWU ballot result, with no time for union members to ballot for legal strike action.

This is a clear abdication of leadership by CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes and Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward, who heads the postal section. They already know that the changes to the pensions scheme by Royal Mail are completely unacceptable to their members.

Royal Mail will bring in a scheme on April 1, that will raise the age of entitlement to a pension on retirement from the current age of 60 to 65 years old in 2010.

From April 1, pensions will no longer be linked to final salaries and workers will be expected to make larger contributions to get a pension comparable with the one they would receive under the existing scheme.

If 85 per cent of managers at Royal Mail have rejected the scrapping of their pensions, it is certain that a similar proportion of CWU members will vote for the Royal Mail’s pensions plan to be thrown out.

It is clear that the whole workforce at Royal Mail, both CWU and Unite members, are united in their determination to defend their final salary pensions.

CWU members must reject the arguments of Royal Mail, which are repeated by some of their leaders, that the present scheme is unsustainable. The government, which owns Royal Mail has spent billions on Northern Rock and the Iraq war.

Postal workers are demanding that their final salaries pension scheme be funded, because it is an absolute necessity for them and their families in old age.

Through their branches and divisions, CWU and Unite members must make sure plans are put in place for united strike action to ensure that the final salary pensions plan continues.

This fight demands the removal of the Hayes-Ward leadership which betrayed the strike struggle last year over pay, jobs, casualisation and flexibility, through time-wasting secret talks and on-off strikes.

The same leadership has given Royal Mail months to bring in the new pension plans, while engaging in time-wasting consultation.

CWU members must put forward motions to the union’s annual conference demanding their resignation.

A new revolutionary leadership must be built in the union that will organise the fight for all-out strike action to defeat Royal Mail bosses’ onslaught on jobs, pay, working practices and pensions.

This is a fight against the government, which orchestrates the actions of Royal Mail Chairman Allan Leighton, Crozier and co. The attack on postal workers is part of the government’s offensive against all public sector workers, through job losses and pay cuts.

Postal workers must ensure the CWU joins with other unions in a public sector alliance to organise strike action to get rid of the Brown government and replace it with a workers’ government, that will implement socialist policies.