IT TOOK just minutes yesterday for three High Court judges to hear and dismiss an appeal by the postal workers union (CWU) against an earlier injunction banning the right of their members to take strike action despite a 97% vote in favour.
According to the judges, this massive vote was invalid because the union had led an active campaign for a Yes vote and this constituted a ‘form of subversion of the ballot process’.
The right of every worker to take industrial action is under threat by this judgement.
The capitalist courts have now ruled that even if trade unions obey all the anti-union laws imposed by the Tories they will have their ballot struck down at the whim of the judges and the government.
The response of the CWU has been defiant.
CWU deputy general secretary Tony Kearns said: ‘We’ve got a 97 per cent yes vote on a 75 per cent return. It is the clear democratic will of the employees of Royal Mail and members of the CWU to take strike action, as is their human right. And we’ve seen here today, in a matter of seconds, three appeal court judges override that democracy.’ Kearns added that the union would now consider holding another ballot.
The day before yesterday’s ruling, the CWU sent a letter to all members which anticipated the court’s decision. In this letter the CWU said that it had ‘little faith in the justice system’ and stressed that they ‘had a plan to win this dispute and will not sit back and see your jobs and the industry we love destroyed’, adding that this was ‘not the end of our campaign but the start of a new phase’.
The letter also emphasised that the court judgement did not affect the ballot of CWU members in Royal Mail’s Parcel Force, who were balloted separately, and that unless Royal Mail management ‘step back’ from their plans to destroy the working conditions of these members then: ‘We will immediately call action for our Parcel Force members.’
The defiance of the CWU leadership and their refusal to be cowed by the courts reflects the huge anger amongst the working class directed against the bosses and politicians who lord it over workers, tear up union agreements and drive their wages and conditions into the ground in order to ensure the profits of the shareholders and bankers.
This was highlighted yesterday by the RMT rail workers union which reacted with fury at the news that the Tory government are handing £86 million of taxpayers’ money to South Western Railway to compensate the bosses and shareholders for any losses during the RMT strike action.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘This £86 million taxpayer-funded government bailout means South Western Railway will be paid by the government even when they don’t run trains on strike days. Fat cat rail bosses won’t lose a penny and have no incentive to settle.’
He added: ‘This is an astonishing political intervention by the government during the general election that deliberately politicises and prolongs this dispute.’
In fear of this mass movement of workers, the ruling class is attempting to smash the trade unions using the taxes of working people to subsidise the bosses, keep them in profit during strikes in the hope of wearing the unions down and paving the way for an all-out assault on workers’ pay and conditions afterwards.
At the same time, the capitalist courts are ruling strikes illegal any time the bosses plead for help to crush the unions.
Both the CWU and RMT must now unite in calling for the entire trade union movement to take decisive action in defence of the basic democratic right of workers to strike through calling a political general strike to bring down the government and go forward to a workers government.
A workers government will nationalise the mail and rail services, along with all major industry and the banks, and place them under the management of the working class as part of building a socialist society.
The answer to these attacks on the working class is to expropriate the bosses and bankers, abolish capitalist law courts, break up the anti-union state apparatus and go forward to socialism!