HALF WAY through the CWU’s two weeks of rolling strike action it is perfectly clear that well over 90 per cent of the CWU’s members are not only supporting the action enthusiastically, but are demanding that the action be stepped up to win the struggle.
The CWU executive will be meeting in the next 24 hours to discuss just that, with the union’s leadership desperately hoping that something will turn up, namely that the Royal Mail management will agree to talks.
The leaders have stated on a number of occasions that Royal Mail have only to do this, and they will call off all strike actions.
The union leaders obviously consider that once the Royal Mail agrees to talks, they will be able to negotiate an end to the membership’s final salary pension scheme, and another swathe of mass redundancies, some 40,000 to start with.
So now we have a situation where the membership are calling for indefinite strike action to defeat the Royal Mail and the government’s plans for mass sackings, wage and pension cuts, and casualisation, while all the CWU leaders want is talks.
The problem for Hayes and Ward is that Royal Mail and the government have no intention of negotiating some ‘compromise’. They intend to impose their settlement, to greatly weaken or even bust the CWU (remember the NUM).
The management have already compared this struggle to the miners strike, and last week they leaked their plans to smash the postal workers’ final salary pension scheme.
The government is meanwhile giving full support to the Royal Mail and has refused to tell Royal Mail to talk to the CWU.
Last Wednesday, Labour MP Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) asked Brown at PM’s question time to ‘join me in urging Royal Mail to enter into meaningful discussions with the Communications Workers Union and thus ensure that the jobs, and the good pay and conditions of Royal Mail employees, such as those at Mount Pleasant Sorting Office in my constituency, are protected?’
Brown replied making clear that he had no intention of protecting the jobs, pay and conditions of postal workers.
He said: ‘Obviously we want decent pay for all workers in this country but we must also tackle inflation, and people have to accept settlements that will ensure that inflation is low in the years to come.
‘While I want to see justice for every low paid worker in this country, we have to remember that if we do not win the battle against inflation, we will have a bigger problem next year or the year after.
‘That’s why I believe that all workers should look at pay settlements as a means by which we can conquer inflation over the next few months.’
Brown states that the postal workers will ‘have to accept’ the settlement that Labour and Royal Mail are offering them.
He is working for the defeat of the CWU at the hands of the Royal Mail and his statement was made to encourage Royal Mail to step up the fight.
The issue therefore is that at its forthcoming meeting the CWU leaders must call indefinite strike action against Royal Mail.
Central to this must be the mobilisation of the whole public sector. The CWU must call a national demonstration so that millions of public sector and other workers can march with the postal workers to defeat the Royal Mail and the Brown government’s privatisation, wage cutting and job cutting plans.
This action will prepare the way for the public sector trade unions to join the strike action when Royal Mail begins to victimise postal workers and strike-break.
As well, the CWU must end all financial support for the Labour Party and the Brown government in reply to Brown’s attack on CWU members’ pensions.
Local branches of the CWU must form councils of action in the localities to mobilise all local trade unions and community organisations to fight alongside the postal workers. This is the way forward to defeat the Royal Mail and the Brown government and to bring in a workers government to carry out socialist policies.