No to a Barber sell-out – It’s trade union action that’s required!

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THE TUC announced on Saturday that ‘Royal Mail and the CWU have in recent days been in contact with the TUC over the current dispute and have sought the TUC’s assistance in resolving any outstanding issues around the draft document discussed last Tuesday to avoid further industrial action and provide the basis for productive talks.’

Previously, Royal Mail boss Crozier had refused to go to the state arbitration body ACAS because he was not willing to hold unconditional talks with the CWU.

He wanted the CWU to halt all strike actions as the only basis for talks at ACAS.

Now Crozier has accepted an invitation from Barber to meet him and the CWU leaders, the object of which is once again ‘to avoid further industrial action and provide the basis for productive talks’.

The message is clear. Stopping the strikes is the ‘basis for productive talks’. The danger is that the CWU membership will have this agreed for them by Barber and Co!

Crozier has some very good reasons to have confidence in Barber.

In 2005, Barber signed the sell-out documents at Gate Gourmet, which cost 700 jobs, and caused huge suffering amongst workers.

He did so well at the talks he presided over, between the TGWU and the Texas Pacific ‘gangster capitalists’, that Gate Gourmet put a public tribute to him on their web site.

On September 28th 2005, when Gate Gourmet announced that it had done a deal with the TGWU, Eric Born, Managing Director of Gate Gourmet UK & Ireland, said: ‘After weeks of constructive negotiations, I am pleased the union leadership has ultimately accepted our suggested path for a resolution to this dispute…

‘Gate Gourmet thanks Brendan Gold for agreeing to the proposals, and Brendan Barber for his unwavering support and assistance throughout the negotiation process. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our newfound relationship with the union at Heathrow.’

Richard Wells, the vice-chair of Gate Gourmet Human Resources Europe added that he credited TUC general secretary Brendan Barber with brokering Gate Gourmet’s deal with the TGWU.

He said ‘Barber’s was a most helpful intervention and he was able to do what Acas couldn’t.’

The reason for today’s meeting between Crozier and the CWU leaders is to give Barber a chance to do it again!

Also, as the TUC announcement states, Barber assisted ‘Royal Mail and the CWU to reach the 2007 Pay and Modernisation Agreement, which included talks on the longer term Royal Mail transformation agenda.’

It was this agreement that set the scene for the current strike action, by allowing Royal Mail to bring in a wage freeze, destroy workers’ pensions, and organise a dictatorial management to impose a huge workload on the CWU membership.

CWU members, branches and areas must tell their leaders that there must be no sell-out this time round, and that any such development will lead to a change of leadership in the union.

To win this struggle, the strike actions must be stepped up, leading to indefinite strike action throughout December.

A public sector alliance must be formed and organised to bring millions of workers out alongside the postal workers, and the Royal Mail bosses and Brown-Mandelson government must be beaten.

There is not going to be any compromise agreement in this struggle. There may well be an attempt to postpone the battle till the New Year (as described in the Royal Mail leaked battle plan) when Royal Mail will have the advantage.

The time to fight is now, when the CWU clearly has the upper hand, in terms of the effect of the action on Royal Mail, and in the depth of public support for the union.