POSTAL workers are preparing for a second ballot for national strike action between 3rd and 17th March over management moves to steamroller through plans to smash up the mail service and destroy thousands of jobs.
In October last year postal members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted by 97.1% on a 76% turnout for strike action over plans by the newly installed Royal Mail management to tear up past binding agreements on reducing the working week which the union believed would safeguard jobs from automation of the service.
The five-year plan, driven by the new Chief Executive Officer of Royal Mail Rico Back, tears up this Four Pillars Agreement signed in 2018 in favour of the complete splitting of letter delivery from the parcel force section of Royal Mail.
Letter delivery, along with the universal service obligation which guarantees letter delivery everywhere in the UK for a standard price, would be allowed to wither on the vine while the more lucrative Parcel Force would become little more than another parcel delivery service competing with the likes of Amazon, Hermes and all the other services that rely for their profit on casual low-paid workers.
This is the gig-economy model that Back imposed when he ran the European arm of Royal Mail’s parcel delivery organisation.
The massive vote last year for all-out strike action over the Christmas period was declared illegal by the courts on the grounds that the union had campaigned actively for a Yes vote and this constituted a ‘form of subversion of the ballot process’.
Despite the CWU leadership reacting with defiance to this blatant attack on the rights of workers to strike they agreed to obey the court injunction and then accepted an offer from management to enter into negotiations with the CWU Executive offering a ‘period of calm for negotiations to succeed’.
They also agreed not to re-ballot or announce any industrial action by the unions Parcel Force members, who were not covered by the court ruling and whose ballot for strike action still remained in force, until the end of February.
The period of calm resulted in nothing more than Back insisting that nothing will stand in the way of destroying the jobs and conditions of 11,000 CWU members along with the entire postal service.
This month shares in Royal Mail plummeted making it worth less than at any time since it was privatised in 2013, with Back saying: ‘We want to reach agreement with the Communication Workers Union but we cannot afford to delay this essential transformation any longer.’
The shareholders are demanding a showdown with the CWU and Royal Mail will undoubtedly once again turn to the courts to declare any strike illegal.
With Boris Johnson pledging in the Queen’s Speech to introduce laws making strikes in transport and other essential public services illegal, the immediate question facing not just the CWU but every union today is the defence of the democratic right of workers to strike.
All the prevarications, all the continual quests for calm negotiations and passive submission to the capitalist courts by the trade union leadership will be treated with contempt by a working class that has more than demonstrated its determination to fight for its jobs and its unions.
Postal workers must demand that the CWU leaders this time carry out the result of the forthcoming ballot in defiance of any laws and declare an indefinite national strike.
The CWU must call on the entire trade union movement to come out in defence of the right to strike and in defence of vital public services.
Those leaders who refuse to fight must be removed and replaced by a new leadership prepared to organise mass strike action to bring down the Tory government and advance to a workers’ government.
A workers’ government that will nationalise Royal Mail, all public services and the major industries, placing them under the management of the working class along with expropriating the bankers and bosses as part of building a socialist planned economy.
This is the only way to defend jobs and services.
Only the WRP is fighting to build this leadership – join today!