THE reality of the situation facing postal workers is that after two series of mass strike actions during which they have shown they are prepared to fight to the finish to defend their jobs, wages, pensions and their union, Royal Mail and the Brown Mandelson government are not giving an inch, while their CWU leadership is bending over backwards to get Royal Mail to agree to a form of words that will allow it to call off all the action.
This is the only interpretation that can be placed on the press release from Dave Ward of last Wednesday evening, concerning the negotiations with Royal Mail, chaired by TUC leader Brendan Barber.
In it he says: ‘Earlier today we tabled a proposal as part of the process that reflected the progress made in negotiations over the last few days. Had that proposal been agreed this would have enabled a period of calm and allowed further talks through ACAS with the intention of concluding a full and final agreement.
‘At this point of time, we have not had confirmation as to whether our proposal is acceptable and therefore the strikes previously announced for the next few days will take place. We respect the confidentiality of the process currently managed by Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, and we are not prepared to comment on the detail of those discussions or our proposal.’
Here Ward makes clear that the CWU membership will not be informed of the position that their leaders have put forward, and that the leaders are prepared to call off all strike actions if the Royal Mail and the government accepts this position, without referring the matter first of all to their membership!
Ward continued, just hours before the stoppages were due to begin, on Thursday at 4am: ‘This series of strikes and future strikes can still be avoided and we remain available for discussions at any time, including tonight. We remain committed to reaching an agreed resolution.’
The membership which voted in a 76 per cent majority for strike action is not to be consulted at all!
The strikes went ahead because Royal Mail and the government have not the slightest intention of making any kind of compromise, and are determined to defeat the CWU and its membership, while the CWU leaders remain desperate to wind up the struggle as soon as they can. They have no policy for tackling the Royal Mail bosses and the government, no-mind defeating them.
With this leadership the CWU members are fighting blindfolded, with both hands tied behind their backs.
A new leadership is required in the union. This must be one that is prepared to stand up to the Royal Mail and Labour government bullies and develop a policy to defeat them.
In fact, decisive action must be taken during the time that the enemy is at its weakest, in the run up to Xmas, to win the struggle.
The national executive of the CWU must immediately call more strike actions. It must also move to establish a public sector alliance with those sections of the working class that are facing exactly the same treatment from the government.
This means forming an alliance with the FBU, the teachers, the health workers, the civil servants, the prison officers and the local government workers to defeat the bosses and the government.
The best way to initiate this is for the CWU to call a national demonstration to bring out onto the streets of London the millions of workers that support the postal workers, and know that if they are defeated they will be next.
This will create the conditions for the public sector unions to move on the general council of the TUC that it calls a general strike to defeat the bosses and the government.
This is the way forward and the sooner that it is taken the better it will be.