AFTER almost two days of discussions, the CWU leadership has rejected the call of the membership of the union for indefinite strike action, and for the formation of a public sector alliance to defeat the attacks of the Brown government, and to defend the jobs, and wages of all public sector workers, by defeating Labour’s privatisation programme.
The best that the CWU leaders have to offer is more of the same. There have already been two 24 hour strikes. Now there are to be two more, disguised to make them look a bit different by varying the days and times that different sections of the union come out in ‘rolling strike action’.
There are to be ‘functional/site specific strikes’ between Wednesday July 25th and Wednesday 8th August.
One thing is different however. The union leaders if anything are even more conciliatory than they were before.
There are three offers in the circular and letter that has been made public, to cancel all of the strike actions if the management will agree to negotiate.
The object behind these strikes is not to take such action that will win the dispute, but to get the management to the negotiating table, where, doubtless, much more horse trading can take place selling out jobs, cutting wages and opening the doors wider to the privateers.
In last Tuesday’s ‘Circular to all Branches’ Billy Hayes writes: ‘We have made a further offer that if Royal Mail engage in meaningful negotiations and step back from executive action, as set out in an earlier letter to Allan Leighton – the Union will call off the next planned strikes.’ He wants to stop them before they have even started ‘rolling’!
The pledge is also made in the circular that ‘If required, the Union will be announcing a further programme of strike action no later than Monday 30th July’.
Half way through the programme of ‘rolling strikes’, the executive will be meeting to discuss whether to call off the action, since if further action is deemed not necessary, there is no reason for embarking on the second week of ‘rolling strike action.’
In the letter of July 17 to bosses Crozier and Leighton the union leaders say again: ‘If you continue to publicly refuse to negotiate you will be responsible for escalating this dispute. Alternatively, you can pick up the offer for meaningful negotiations as set out in our letter to Allan dated 5th July – this means the next planned strike action will be avoided.’
In fact the bosses and the government behind them have been escalating this dispute from day one, by refusing to negotiate and insisting that their programme of massive wage and job cuts will be carried out.
The action of the union leaders when faced with this intransigence has been to offer to stop any action if the bosses will only agree to negotiate with them.
This has only encouraged the bosses and the government to think that they are going to be able to get away with their attack on the CWU membership and the service.
This dispute must be won. Decisive action must be taken. If not, the danger is that the bosses will force a region of the union out through victimisations, and then use the privateers that are now infesting the industry in strike breaking on a scale never seen before in the industry.
After all, the Royal Mail bosses have been boasting that this is going to be the biggest struggle seen since the miners strike.
The union leaders must be made to call indefinite national strike action and to demand that the TUC call the entire public sector out to win the struggle.
The local branches of the CWU must establish councils of action that will mobilise all of the local branches of the TUC trade unions and all local community organisations to demonstrate and take solidarity strike action in support of the postal workers.
This will clear the way for the national strike action and the general strike action that is needed.
The management and the government must be taken at their word, that they will not retreat. They must therefore be beaten and the CWU must have leaders who are prepared to take on and beat the government.