POSTAL workers throughout the country face crunch time in defence of their jobs and the very existence of their union, the CWU.
This was spelt out when the chief executive of Royal Mail, Moya Greene, casually let drop in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper last Wednesday that in order for the Royal Mail to become ‘financially viable’ a further 40,000 jobs would have to be axed from the 163,000-strong workforce.
According to Greene, she is preparing the ‘biggest modernisation and change programme of any company in Britain’ as she attempts to fulfil the remit she was given by the coalition to prepare Royal Mail for privatisation by slashing staff and shutting down whole swathes of the company to make it attractive to the privateers.
The reaction of the leadership of the CWU to Greene’s stated intention reveals just how fast the trade union bureaucracy are running from the fight to defend their members’ jobs and livelihoods.
Dave Ward, deputy general secretary, issued a press release in response to Greene’s interview in which he claimed: ‘This is the first we’ve heard of plans for further job losses and we’re deeply disappointed that Moya Greene has chosen to put this information out through the media instead of discussing staffing issues with the union first.’
If this is truly the first Ward has heard of 40,000 jobs being axed then he must have been in a coma for the past week.
The figure of 40,000 job losses in Royal Mail first appeared in the press last week, along with the news that the CWU leadership had already agreed to the loss of 24,000 jobs over three years under the terms of the notorious Business Transformation Agreement, the agreement that gave the green light to mail centre closures in London.
Last week the CWU leaders dismissed these figures saying they didn’t know where they came from – now they do, they came from the chief executive herself!
Postal workers will conclude that a deadly game of duplicity is being carried out by the CWU leadership of Ward and Hayes. They deny all knowledge of a jobs massacre but, when confronted with the figures, they profess ‘disappointment’ that management have revealed their intentions for the membership to see.
Ward concluded his press statement with what has become a ritual statement, that the union leaders will ‘protect our members’ jobs and conditions of work and that any hint of compulsory redundancies would lead to an immediate nationwide ballot for industrial action’.
They have been given more than a hint: Greene’s comment is a statement of intent, as these losses cannot be managed in any other way than through compulsory sackings and the destruction of the Royal Mail.
The CWU leaders are at present sitting on an overwhelming mandate for industrial action to defend the mail centres. Instead of activating the strength of the membership and taking on management and the government they have entered into meaningless rounds of negotiations that simply buy time for Royal Mail.
The members are fed up to the back teeth with the constant attacks on jobs and conditions and, as the vote for strike action proves, more than ready to fight.
It is the leadership that is running scared, and must be made to resign. The union must call an indefinite strike to smash the privatisation plan and to defend every job. The CWU must also demand that the TUC calls out all its member unions alongside the CWU to bring down the coalition. This is the only way to defend the interests of the working class which are now under the biggest attack ever.