THE MASSIVE vote by postal workers for strike action in December over Royal Mail tearing up the previous agreements on pay and conditions has caused an outpouring of rage from Royal Mail bosses and Tory MPs with accusations that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have hatched a ‘secret plot’ to destroy the election due on December 12.
The great fear is that a national strike in December would inevitably cause chaos in the postal voting system with some experts warning this could lead to legal challenges to the final result.
In the 2017 general election more than 8.2 million applied for a postal vote. This has caused dread in the ranks of Tory MPs as postal voting is most common amongst the elderly and it is estimated that nearly half of Tory voters are 65 or older.
On top of this the millions of election addresses mailed out to voters in each constituency would be hit, causing heart palpitations amongst MPs at the thought that voters will be denied the opportunity to read their election promises.
Tory MP Steve Double raged that the CWU leaders are guilty of ‘blatant opportunism’ adding: ‘People may have genuine industrial grievances but no one should be able to hold British democracy to ransom in this way.’
Double clearly believes this is the sole prerogative of MPs, not just to hold ‘British democracy’ to ransom but to completely trash it, as Parliament has attempted for three years to overturn the democratic result of the 2016 EU referendum.
Last week, in a desperate attempt to delay strike action until next year, Royal Mail bosses dropped their previous intransigence and appealed to the CWU for further negotiations without any preconditions.
Previously they had stubbornly refused to carry on any further negotiations until the threat of strike action had been lifted completely. This ‘offer’ was rejected out of hand by the CWU who, contrary to reports, have made no secret that they will be targeting the election.
Terry Pullinger, CWU postal deputy secretary, told The Telegraph: ‘It’s now our policy to target the election. There’s no law saying we can’t do that.’
Pullinger continued: ‘The Royal Mail has told us not to threaten the integrity of our democracy by going on strike. But I can tell you, we’re not the ones who are threatening democracy. It’s the Royal Mail doing that by refusing to listen to their workers.’
He added: ‘I can’t see any way that these talks will be successful. So I can’t see any way of avoiding strike action before the election.’
Pullinger is absolutely correct. The right to strike is a basic democratic right that the working class won over years of struggle and which must be defended by the entire trade union movement. It is a right that successive Tory governments from Thatcher on have tried to smash through anti-union laws.
Every worker will support the postal workers in their fight against a management determined to tear up binding previous agreements with the union over pay and reduced working hours and instead institute a regime of speed ups and cuts.
At the same time, the new management regime at Royal Mail are driving to hive off the profitable parts of the service, such as Parcel Force, and end once and for all the universal delivery service under which they are obliged to deliver at a standard rate to every part of the country.
This struggle is over the very survival of the postal service after it was sold for a pittance to the speculators by the Cameron Tory government and now over the democratic right of workers to strike.
Any attempt by MPs or management to go to the courts to declare the strike illegal as a threat to bourgeois democracy must be the signal for the entire trade union movement to come out in a general strike to defend the right of postal workers to strike, and to then advance to demanding the renationalisation without compensation of Royal Mail and along with it all services and major industries and place them under the management of the working class as part of a socialist economy.