Corby MP reneges on defence of Royal Mail – CWU branch votes to continue campaign

CWU branches from all over the country supported the November 15 march in Milton Keynes to defend the Mail Centre open
CWU branches from all over the country supported the November 15 march in Milton Keynes to defend the Mail Centre open

Corby Postal Workers have agreed unanimously to campaign against the threat to privatise Royal Mail in Corby despite the local Labour MP Phil Hope abandoning his previous anti-privatisation stance.

Last Friday, senior officials of the Communication Workers Union met with Union members in Corby following the growing unrest towards Phil Hope, MP, who is Care Services Minister and Minister for East Midlands, and his support for the part-privatisation of Royal Mail.

Mick Fitzmaurice, CWU Branch Secretary, said: ‘It is not acceptable for the Labour government to just say one thing and then do another following its commitment to a wholly publicly owned Royal Mail at its 2008 conference and again within the Warwickshire agreement.

‘If Phil Hope wishes to be associated with the betrayal of the British people and the commitments given to this Union and its members, it is a matter for him.

‘We have contacted Mr Hope in the past and he has always stated that his parliamentary position forbids him from signing Early Day Motions.

‘But there is a significant difference when the government is reneging on its commitments and the MP for Corby is under no illusions that the privatisation of Royal Mail is not in the best interests of his constituents or indeed carry their support.

‘One of our members was infuriated when he received a letter from Phil Hope 28th Jan 09 following an enquiry as to why Phil was using TNT post rather than Royal Mail.

‘Phil responded by saying that he uses TNT for processing the mail and it is then delivered by Royal Mail which just about epitomises why Royal Mail should remain public in order to protect the Universal Service Obligation to each UK home.

‘It is disappointing that Phil Hope chooses not to support Royal Mail by exploiting the unfair competition using private couriers to sort the mail knowing full well that it comes back to Royal Mail as we are the only company compelled to deliver the USO to each and every UK household.

‘It has now become clear that Phil Hope does not support the Royal Mail and the Post Office Network as a whole or he would not be using private couriers or working in cahoots with Peter Mandelson to privatise it.’

Mark Batterham, CWU Branch Chair said: ‘Our members are incensed and we will be highlighting the privatisation plans to the public in Corby over the coming weeks.

‘If Phil Hope is a part of the government as he has said in his response letter to the CWU, we must assume that he is content with the privatisation plans for Royal Mail and to represent the electorate of Corby as supporting what even Margaret Thatcher couldn’t achieve.

‘The people of Corby did not want it then and neither did Phil Hope as he campaigned with this Union to successfully defeat it.

‘We’re now asking Phil Hope to stand up and be counted for his constituents rather than buckle under the unelected and unaccountable Peter Mandelson in his plans to privatise the postal industry.

‘Phil Hope knows that this is in direct conflict with recent government pledges and he equally knows that our customers/his electorate will not stand idly by whilst Peter Mandelson destroys the great British postal service.’

In a letter to CWU members, Fitzmaurice wrote: ‘Dear Colleagues,

‘Please find attached a press statement which went to the Chronicle and Echo and the Corby Evening Telegraph today following our meeting with the Corby delivery members.

‘You will see that the support from our members in Corby was 100% in favour of the CWU campaign and our proposed method in dealing with the local MP.

‘Our first public event will start next Friday 20th Feb with a stall being set up by the Corby Town bandstand at 11am to collect petitions and get names to standard MP & Councillor letters.

‘Placards, CWU branch banner, whistles will then make their way to Phil Hope’s Constituency surgery which will be held at the TA centre and starts at 2pm.

‘Phil has been advised of this in a letter that I have sent to him today asking him to reconsider his position.

‘In addition we will be designing a letter over the coming days for Phil’s neighbours within the Ward that he lives.

‘The letter will be tailored to highlight his support for privatising Royal Mail and the damage it will do within the rural areas such as his own.

‘The Lady responsible for delivering in Phil’s home area approached us immediately after our meeting to offer her free services to deliver the correspondence.

‘A checklist will also be put together and monitored in respect of the Corby Borough Councillors and their response to the recent CWU letter which we sent them.

‘Corby still hosts more Labour Councillors than most but we will need to ensure that they are all fulfilling their duty to represent the electorate in Corby rather than the New Labour MP who seems more focused on his high-flying career.

‘The Corby Evening telegraph published our statement today on page 3 regarding the meeting with CWU members, just 2 pages behind the headlines announcing Gordon Brown’s visit today to a local steel company, if only we knew!!!

‘John Kenrick made me aware today that Corby members are more and more questioning the purpose of remaining within the political levy so I gave them an assurance today that the Northamptonshire Branch campaign will be focusing 100% on Corby using all resource within its means. This includes our local political fund.

‘All are welcome to attend and support the event on 20th February and I have copied in some like-minded comrades and senior Officers of the Northampton Trades Council that have already pledged support.

‘All Trade Union/Trades Council banners are also welcome.

‘Today’s letter to Phil Hope is the fourth since 22nd January 09 and he has been invited to meet with the CWU Regional Secretary, Lee Barron, in a separate letter and as of yet has failed to respond.

‘It smacks of a politician whose feet have clearly left the ground and as we told the Corby membership today we are not a slush fund for Labour Party politicians climbing the greasy pole whilst abandoning their commitment to a wholly publicly owned Royal Mail.

‘Whilst Corby is still predominantly Labour, Corby voters do not naturally gel with the New Labour ideology and the likes of the unaccountable and unelected Mandelson who was resurrected following his previous departure under a cloud.

‘I am confident that if we successfully engage with the public of Corby, this career MP will soon begin to feel very vulnerable in his homeland.

‘He can hardly expect the local community to take this from a Labour MP given the history and destruction of the steel industry in the 1980s.

‘Future public events are being planned and any ideas would be most welcome.

‘We are considering some slogans at the moment and one that springs to mind for the next event as we raise the anti is, “No hope in Corby for a publicly owned Royal Mail”.’