THE drive by the leadership of the postal workers union (CWU) to transform it from an independent union fighting for the interests of its membership into a company union that places the interest of the newly privatised Royal Mail (RM) and its shareholders above all else has taken a further step down the road of outright corporatism this week.
The ‘legal contract’ agreed between RM and the CWU and ratified by the membership earlier this month, contained a short and completely overlooked section headed ‘A Company Charter’.
The brief paragraph that follows states: ‘In February 2014 we will commence the process of developing a company charter with the input of all stakeholders setting out the values and principles of what Royal Mail Group stands for. The intention is to complete this by June 2014.’
The reason for this rush to meet a deadline of June is that this charter has to be ratified by the first annual meeting of shareholders.
Negotiations between the CWU and RM management now have to be approved by the private hedge funds and speculators who now run RM and who now will dictate what ‘values and principles’ RM stands for.
This does not mean that the more intelligent privateer will necessarily be against ratification of this charter – on the contrary, the charter will give them everything they could have dreamed of, it locks the union into a reactionary ‘partnership’ with management to do whatever is the best for RM at the expense of its members.
The next paragraph of the union’s agreement, headed ‘Employee Engagement’ spells this out: ‘By the end of June 2014 we will conclude a review of all existing employee engagement initiatives and put in place new and more progressive initiatives that support our shared objectives, a mutual interest culture and leads to well-motivated and highly engaged employees.’
This is a formula for completely smashing up local negotiation and the power of individual CWU branches and replacing them with ‘progressive initiatives’, code for getting trade union bureaucrats round the table with senior management to agree how to implement ‘shared objectives’. The only objective any private company has is how to maximise its profits.
Their role as very junior partners in this corporatist set up will be to ensure that the traditionally militant CWU branches, that have had a high degree of autonomy and have frequently used unofficial strikes to defend members and conditions, are brought to heel.
It is a blueprint for the CWU leadership to impose its reactionary partnership with management and shareholders on branches and members who will face disciplinary action and expulsion if they dare step out of line and challenge these shared values.
While the union is committed to a legally binding contract and now hopes to see this enshrined in perpetuity through this corporatist charter, the management is committed to absolutely nothing that may adversely affect its profits.
The contract stipulates that it can be broken at any time if management has ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing that ‘any part of the business to which this protection applies has ceased to be, or is likely to cease being financially sustainable’.
The simple truth, which was driven into the consciousness of the working class from its very beginning, is that there is not and can never be ‘shared objectives’ with the employer whose only objective is to maximise profit at the expense of the workers.
The next step will be for the CWU leaders to drop openly any demand for re-nationalisation and become the standard bearers for a new ‘enlightened’ privatisation and for unions to cease fighting for services and conditions and accept a place on the board as the lackeys of the ruling class.
For CWU members the only possible way forward is to kick out these traitors and replace them with a new, revolutionary leadership.
Only a revolutionary leadership that is committed to ending capitalism, not collaborating with it, can guarantee the independence of the union.
Only the WRP is building this leadership, join today.