AFTER calling off last winter’s national strike by their members in Royal Mail without the members’ agreement – and without their members’ demands to stop bullying and sackings being met – the leadership of the Communication Workers Union has now agreed surrender terms with the company.
The CWU leaders said they were cancelling the strike action last year in order to have a ‘pause for peace’ or a ‘period of calm’ in the Royal Mail.
This was at a time when Royal Mail bosses and their government masters were terrified that strikes were going to continue over Christmas, the peak time for the Post Office, and that the strike was about to be joined by other sections of workers.
After seven weeks of talks, with the assistance of the TUC leader Brendan Barber, a document has been drawn up and agreed by the leaders.
The document is entitled ‘Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond – a National Agreement Between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union’.
The contents of the document are to be put before a meeting of CWU officials in Bournemouth this Thursday where they will be expected to recommend acceptance of the terms in a ballot of CWU members across Royal Mail.
This is in a situation where it is common knowledge that Royal Mail wants to sell dozens of Mail Centres, the large hubs where mail is sorted that employ thousands of CWU members, and that the company is still looking for more cuts in local delivery offices.
On ‘Transforming Relationships’, the document says that Royal Mail bosses and the CWU leaders recognise ‘that transforming relationships and modernising the culture is key’.
After giving up its strike action, the CWU leaders want the union to be transformed from the instrument of the workforce to defend its interests into the instrument of the management to drive through savage cuts on behalf of Royal Mail, and in preparation for the privatisation of the company after the next election.
Royal Mail bosses have told the cowardly CWU leadership this must be done fast, as an election is just weeks away.
The document agreed by the CWU leaders says: ‘A more positive role with genuine involvement will require the CWU and its representatives to recognise the environment the business operates within, commit to the success of the company, and adopt quicker and improved decision making.’
It then adds: ‘The CWU has advised Royal Mail that it will reform its internal structures to facilitate this.’
Intrinsic to the document is a no-strike agreement. It states that ‘The need to ensure that national agreements are consistently deployed at a local level with continuity of service in a way that means industrial action and managerial executive action become unnecessary.’
The document spells out the timetable for the ‘Practical Next Steps/Programme of Activity’.
Local officials of the CWU are to be given an ultimatum: either be part of this new set-up in which the union makes the cuts together with Royal Mail or you could face dismissal.
‘Local parties’, says the document will be given ‘the skills and necessary support to deploy local change fairly, consistently and at pace’.
There is also to be a ‘national relationship group, led by the senior representative of both parties, which will meet regularly to ensure the programme of activity is delivered to plan’.
New ‘quality strategic forums’ will be introduced by the end of May, and by the Autumn there will be a new IR [Industrial Relations] framework in Royal Mail.
Then comes the dirty work that the CWU is expected to carry out: ‘There should be a standard set of HR [Human Resources] procedures covering all CWU grades.
‘Attendance, conduct (including the role and continuing need for the National Appeals Panel) and performance are priority procedures for joint review and these reviews should be concluded over the next six months.’
This is a recipe for civil war in Royal Mail and an end to an independent trade union defending the members.
This deal and this leadership of the CWU must both be thrown out.