BUSINESS Secretary Peter Mandelson, in the words of the bourgeois media ‘came out fighting’ over the weekend to ‘make war’ on the CWU leaders and their ‘scare tactics’ (his term for their very limited defence of the Royal Mail) and on Labour ministers and MPs who intend to vote against the Brown-Mandelson-Cameron alliance in the House of Commons, in order to defend the state ownership of the Royal Mail.
In fact, Mandelson is working to split the Labour Party and to create the conditions for the emergence of a national government whose job will be not just to privatise the Royal Mail but to eliminate every gain that the working class has made since 1945, for the benefit of the crisis-ridden bankers and bosses.
This will be a government following in the footsteps of the 1931 National Government. It was formed when Ramsay MacDonald crossed the floor of the House of Commons to form a national government with the Tories, that sought to resolve the capitalist crisis, unleashed by the 1929 crash, by slashing workers’ living standards.
Mandelson has pledged that there will be no turning back and, while accusing the union leaders of fighting an ‘ideological battle’, has threatened that resistance to his privatisation drive will cost workers their jobs and their pensions.
Said Mandelson: ‘I think a lot of the workforce of the Royal Mail won’t be thinking of the politics of this, but about their pension and about their job security. Both are in danger if we do not sort out the finances of the Royal Mail.’
These threats are being made after Labour has lavished hundreds of billions of pounds on propping up and coddling bankrupt bankers and their pensions!
Mandelson adds that ‘A number of Labour MPs who do not have an ideological fixation one way or the other nonetheless say to me: “Why now? Why invite controversy and disunity?” ’
He replies to a good question with a general non-answer: ‘As the government, we cannot duck difficult questions and choices.’
The reality is that Brown and Mandelson are on course to split the Labour Party and see the Royal Mail privatised with Tory votes.
This course has a logic of its own. To be able to continue to bring in the full gamut of crisis measures, such as a national pay freeze that the bosses feel to be necessary for the survival of capitalism, the Labour Party will be split permanently, with its right wing going into a permanent alliance with the Tories in a National Government.
As for the trade union leaders, their resistance to the privatisation of the Royal Mail has been purely verbal.
They are relying on a parliamentary solution to the crisis – the defeat of the measure in the House of Commons because it is so unpopular in the country.
Once the Tories knock this illusion on the head, they will be left with nothing but empty words, when decisive actions are required.
The current CWU leadership of Hayes and Ward has concentrated on attempting to become a ‘partner’ of the management in bringing in changes to the Royal Mail.
Despite the membership’s determination to resist the destruction of the terms and conditions of service of postal workers, with a series of massively supported strike actions, Hayes and Ward suspended these actions for six weeks of secret talks, before agreeing to the changes.
They also accepted a less-than-inflation wage ‘rise’ and the end of the industry’s final salary pension scheme. Now the employers are seeking to close Mail Centres, make 10 per cent savings, sacking many thousands of workers, and part privatisation.
The CWU and the public sector trade unions must now declare war on the Brown, Mandelson government and its Tory friends.
The CWU and all public sector trade unions must disaffiliate from the Labour Party. The CWU must fight all Mail Centre closures with occupations, and reject the 10 per cent cuts.
It must call national strike action, and demand full support from the public sector to stop Royal Mail privatisation.
It must be prepared to bring the Brown, Mandelson government down and bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.