Smash Royal Mail privatisation!


THE arrogant Tories have announced that the sell-off of Royal Mail is to begin in just weeks.

The announcement comes days after the ending of the TUC Congress where Congress insisted, against the wishes of its leadership, that the issue of calling a general strike remains on its agenda, and where Congress carried motions that the TUC must coordinate the mass strike actions that sections of the movement are being compelled to take as a result of the economic and political attacks (including the Lobbying Bill) that the Tory-led coalition is making on the working class.

The Tory announcement that Royal Mail is to be privatised almost at once – when 70 per cent of the country, including many Tory voters, is opposed to it – constitutes a very real throwing down of the gauntlet in front of the entire trade union movement, virtually daring it to take action to halt this privatisation.

The response of the unions that organise postal workers and managers, the CWU and Unite, has been to try and dodge the issue of tackling privatisation head on.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has condemned the government’s announcement and, while pointing out that 70 per cent of the public are opposed to privatisation, has refused to call indefinite strike action to smash it, limiting itself to a strike ballot over some of the conditions that privatisation will create.

The CWU leader Billy Hayes has explained what his strategy for winning the privatisation war is, saying: ‘We’re taking this to the Labour Party Conference and we want a commitment that a Labour government will renationalise Royal Mail if privatised.’

Making it clear that the CWU is not fighting to stop privatisation, he added: ‘CWU is here for the long-haul. Any owner will have to deal with issues in the industry and take the workforce with them.’

This is despite the fact that CWU members are desperate to prevent privatisation, since its aim is to destroy their wages, conditions and jobs.

The recent two-day national meeting of postal workers’ representatives at the union’s Policy Forum demonstrated this desire to smash privatisation, with one delegate stating: ‘Right now we need to be saying privatisation, no way. Amendments that say what happens if we do get privatised are inappropriate. We need to be saying no way is this industry going to be privatised.’

Unite, which has 8,000 members working as managers for Royal Mail, has accused the government of selling off the ‘family silver’, but has limited itself to stating that it will be liaising with the CWU on campaigning against this sale, and said that industrial action cannot be ruled out. Unite reps will be meeting for consultations early next week.

Earlier this week, in her address to the TUC Congress, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘We will fight this latest, senseless sell-off of the family silver – hands off Royal Mail.’

It is more than obvious that what is required is action supported by all TUC trade unions and all workers to smash Royal Mail privatisation, and with it this reactionary coalition regime.

Putting all of your eggs in the basket of pressurising a Labour government to renationalise the Royal Mail is just like putting your head in the gas oven to test out how noxious the fumes are. It is suicide.

First of all, Labour has to win an election, which is not at all certain with anti-union Miliband as its leader.

Secondly, Labour in government sought to privatise the industry and, if it wins the next general election, will accept Royal Mail privatisation as ordered by the big banks and the bosses, no matter what a Labour Party conference has decided.

The reality is that deciding to depend on Labour renationalising Royal Mail is to give up the struggle to halt Royal Mail privatisation.

CWU and Unite members must insist that the postal trade unions must fight privatisation, and if the union leaders will not, for fear of the capitalist state, they must be replaced by leaders who are prepared to fight to win.

Members of the TUC trade unions must tell their leaders that the indefinite general strike must not be allowed to remain just a weapon in the arsenal, but must be used in support of the postal workers to bring down the Tory-led government and bring in a workers government that will retain a nationalised Royal Mail, put it under workers management, and renationalise all privatised industries.